Nasa has picked two astronauts for the first manned flight of the Space X built Crew Dragon capsule. Blastoff is scheduled for late 2019 or 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The astronauts shrugged off design and test problems, calling the setbacks "part of the process".
Bob Behnken, 48, and Doug Hurley, 52 are the two chosen candidates for the debut manned flight of the Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) and back.
Hurley explained in an interview conducted at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, that the business of space flight was messier than people might expect. “People to a degree think it's pretty glamorous to be able to go into space, but it's actually like a messy camping trip,” Hurley said, according to Reuters.
NASA has been embracing new commercial partnerships in recent years. One of which is with Elon Musk’s California-based company SpaceX. The same company that launched a car into space to test its rocket Falcon Heavy. Elon Musk created SpaceX, which became the first private company to ship cargo to the International Space Station in 2012.
SpaceX started off well with a successful launch when an unpiloted Crew Dragon went to the space station in a test mission called Demo 1. The capsule safely splashed down in the Atlantic afterwards.
Only a month later, however, on April 20, SpaceX experienced a setback which received a lot of attention, when the same Crew Dragon exploded during a ground test of the vehicle's emergency abort thrusters, designed to propel the capsule and its crew to safety from atop the rocket in case of a launch failure.
The accident upset SpaceX's launch schedule and led to NASA and SpaceX "reevaluating target test dates".
Two other astronauts, Mike Hopkins, 50, and Victor Glover, 43, are designated for launch aboard the vehicle's first official operational mission after the debut manned trip. Two more crew members from other countries might join.