NASA's newest test pilots are veteran astronauts, friends
(SpaceX via AP)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. The two astronauts who will test drive SpaceXs brand new rocketship are classmates and friends, veteran spacefliers married to veteran spacefliers, and fathers of young sons. Retired Marine Col. Doug Hurley will be in charge of launch and landing, a fitting assignment for the pilot of NASAs last space shuttle flight. Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, are NASAs first test pilot crew in decades. Crippen and the late John Young rode NASAs first space shuttle, Columbia, into orbit on April 12, 1981. Hurley and Behnken both two-time space shuttle fliers were among four astronauts chosen in 2015 for NASAs commercial crew program.
NASA, SpaceX bringing astronaut launches back to home turf
Elon Musk's SpaceX is the conductor and NASA the customer as businesses begin chauffeuring astronauts to the International Space Station. The drama unfolds from the exact spot where men flew to the moon and the last space shuttle soared from Kennedy Space Center. NASAs newest test pilots, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, are launching from home turf with SpaceX presiding over the countdown. Plagued with software problems, Boeings Starliner capsule is still a year from launching with Ferguson and two NASA astronauts. In terms of launch power, the relatively small Falcon 9 has far less than the space shuttle did, another layer of safety.