It has been 9 years since the US has sent its own astronauts into orbit, but that drought is expected to end on Wednesday with a Florida rocket launch…that is, if the weather permits and there is the threat of showers and thunderstorms. Should the launch take place on Wednesday, it will be a public-private partnership that returns the US to the business of human spaceflight. Not since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet in 2011 has the US possessed the capability to send its astronauts into orbit and the success of this week’s mission known formally as SpaceX Demo-2 may shape the direction of spaceflight for a generation.
On Wednesday, May 27th, SpaceX is set to launch its very first passengers to space, possibly setting the course for a new era of public and private partnership for years to come. This will be the first time since 2011 that astronauts have launched to orbit from US soil and the first time that a private vehicle will take them there. July 8th, 2011, marked the final flight of NASA’s Space Shuttle and the last time astronauts launched to orbit from the United States. Ever since, NASA has flown all of its astronauts and international partners to the space station on Russia’s Soyuz capsule. The arrangement costs NASA about $80 million per seat — and it has been the agency’s only option for getting people to the station.
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