Who are the SpaceX astronauts going to ISS today? Nasa space heroes Rob Behnken and Doug Hurley prepare for launch

NASA astronauts are gearing up to test Elon Musk's spacecraft on the first crewed "all American" mission in nearly a decade.

A pair of space heroes will blast off to the International Space Station on board a SpaceX rocket later today – in a bold mission fraught with risk.

American space heroes Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fire into orbit on May 27 aboard a spaceship built by California rocket firm SpaceX.

They face "an extended stay at the space station", according to Nasa

The specific duration of the mission is to be determined.

Both Behnken, 49, and Hurley, 53, have undergone extensive training ahead of the historic mission and have plenty of spaceflight experience.

Born in St. Anne, Missouri, Behnken previously worked for the US Air Force before joining Nasa.

"Behnken will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station," Nasa said.

"He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights."

Fellow crewman Hurley was born in New York and was previously a fighter pilot for the US Marine Corps.

"Hurley will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery," Nasa said.

"He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights."

They will be ferried to the spacecraft in a Tesla Model X electric car sporting the Nasa logo.

That's because billionaire SpaceX boss Elon Musk is also CEO of Tesla.

Hurley and Behnken will take a special elevator up 230ft to a SpaceX Crew Draon capsule atop the awaiting rocket.

When the countdown hits zero, the rocket will blast into space – carrying astronauts into orbit from US soil for the first time since 2011.

Demo-2, will liftoff from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 9:32pm BST (4:32 pm ET) on May 27.

Once in orbit, the Crew Dragon capsule carrying Hurley and Behnken will separate from the rocket booster.

As is customary for SpaceX flights, the booster will turn around and return to Earth so it can be refurbished and used on a future mission.

"Crew Dragon will accelerate its two passengers to approximately 17,000 mph and put it on an intercept course with the International Space Station," Nasa said.

"Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system and the maneuvering thrusters, among other things."

About 24 hours after launch, Crew Dragon will be in position to dock with the space station.

It can do this automatically but astronauts have the option to take control themselves if something goes wrong.

"After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew," Nasa continued.

"They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew."

The Crew Dragon capsule will remain docked on the ISS until it's needed to take astronauts back to Earth.

Nasa has not yet selected a date for the return flight.

In other news, read our complete guide to the Nasa SpaceX crewed launch.

Here's an easy explainer on how to watch the SpaceX launch live today.

And reckon you could fly Elon Musk's craft? This free online Crew Dragon simulator lets you find out.

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article