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ASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrive at Kennedy Space Center in white Tesla

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, bringing them one-step closer to making history.

The pair were chauffeured into the facility by a white Tesla Model X with NASA stickers placed on the front doors and decals on the windshield form each of the space fairing heroes.

Behnken and Hurley will walk across an access arm to board the Crew Dragon capsule atop Falcon 9 and at 4:33pm ET, the team will launch into space towards the International Space Station.

The mission, dubbed ‘Launch America,’ will be the first time in nearly a decade NASA astronauts have lifted off US soil aboard an American made rocket.

If all goes to plan, SpaceX will become the first private company to put astronauts into orbit, something achieved by just three countries – Russia, the US and China.

The launch is a dream come true for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who has named himself chief engineer of the mission and told CBS This Morning that ‘if it goes wrong, its my fault.’ 

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NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley (left) have arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, bringing them one-step closer to making history. The pair were chauffeured into the facility by a white Tesla Model X with NASA stickers placed on the front doors and decals on the windshield form each of the space fairing heroes

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley (left) have arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, bringing them one-step closer to making history. The pair were chauffeured into the facility by a white Tesla Model X with NASA stickers placed on the front doors and decals on the windshield form each of the space fairing heroes

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley (left) have arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, bringing them one-step closer to making history. The pair were chauffeured into the facility by a white Tesla Model X with NASA stickers placed on the front doors and decals on the windshield form each of the space fairing heroes

‘I’m the chief engineer,’ Musk told CBS News‘ Mark Strassmann. ‘So I’d just like to say if it goes right, it’s credit to the SpaceX/NASA team. If it goes wrong, it’s my fault.’ 

‘Thousands of things that can go wrong, and only one thing that can go right.’ 

‘I really kinda have to kind of mentally block it, because otherwise it would be emotionally impossible to deal with,’ he said of the intensity in the moment. 

Musk also praised the space fairing heroes this morning for their ‘nerves of steel.’

‘I was asking them just a few hours ago. I was like, ‘You guys feel good about this? You know, is there anything you want us to do?’ And they’re cool as a cucumber,’ he said.

Behnken and Hurley, both veteran space travelers, arrived at the space center early Wednesday ahead of the mission.

Behnken and Hurley will walk across an access arm to board the Crew Dragon capsule atop Falcon 9 and at 4:33pm ET, the team will launch into space towards the International Space Station. The mission, dubbed ‘Launch America,’ will be the first time in nearly a decade NASA astronauts have lifted off US soil aboard an American made rocket

Behnken and Hurley will walk across an access arm to board the Crew Dragon capsule atop Falcon 9 and at 4:33pm ET, the team will launch into space towards the International Space Station. The mission, dubbed ‘Launch America,’ will be the first time in nearly a decade NASA astronauts have lifted off US soil aboard an American made rocket

Behnken and Hurley will walk across an access arm to board the Crew Dragon capsule atop Falcon 9 and at 4:33pm ET, the team will launch into space towards the International Space Station. The mission, dubbed ‘Launch America,’ will be the first time in nearly a decade NASA astronauts have lifted off US soil aboard an American made rocket

Behnken and Hurley, both veteran space travelers, arrived at the space center early Wednesday ahead of the mission. With coffees in hand, the pair shook hands and placed their own space decals on the windshield of a Tesla to commemorate the historical launch

Behnken and Hurley, both veteran space travelers, arrived at the space center early Wednesday ahead of the mission. With coffees in hand, the pair shook hands and placed their own space decals on the windshield of a Tesla to commemorate the historical launch

Behnken and Hurley, both veteran space travelers, arrived at the space center early Wednesday ahead of the mission. With coffees in hand, the pair shook hands and placed their own space decals on the windshield of a Tesla to commemorate the historical launch

The launch is a dream come true for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (left) who has named himself chief engineer of the mission and told CBS This Morning that 'if it goes wrong, its my fault.' Musk also commended Behnken and Hurley for having 'nerves of steel' ahead of the launch while speaking with CBS and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (right)

The launch is a dream come true for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (left) who has named himself chief engineer of the mission and told CBS This Morning that 'if it goes wrong, its my fault.' Musk also commended Behnken and Hurley for having 'nerves of steel' ahead of the launch while speaking with CBS and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (right)

The launch is a dream come true for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (left) who has named himself chief engineer of the mission and told CBS This Morning that ‘if it goes wrong, its my fault.’ Musk also commended Behnken and Hurley for having ‘nerves of steel’ ahead of the launch while speaking with CBS and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (right)

With coffees in hand, the pair shook hands and placed their own space decals on the windshield of a Tesla to commemorate the historical launch.

They will soon head inside Kennedy’s remodeled crew, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, to strap on their suits and prepare for liftoff.

SpaceX techs will help the astronauts into their one-piece, two-layer pressure suits.

Hurley and Behnken will emerge through the same double doors used on July 16, 1969, by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins – the Operations and Checkout Building now bears Armstrong’s name.

Each of the astronauts placed their space decal on the windshield of the Tesla Model X

Each of the astronauts placed their space decal on the windshield of the Tesla Model X

Each of the astronauts placed their space decal on the windshield of the Tesla Model X

They will soon head inside Kennedy's remodeled crew, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, to strap on their suits and prepare for liftoff. The two were said to be 'as cool as cucumbers' when they arrived at the space center

They will soon head inside Kennedy's remodeled crew, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, to strap on their suits and prepare for liftoff. The two were said to be 'as cool as cucumbers' when they arrived at the space center

They will soon head inside Kennedy’s remodeled crew, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, to strap on their suits and prepare for liftoff. The two were said to be ‘as cool as cucumbers’ when they arrived at the space center

But instead of the traditional Astrovan, the two will climb into the back seat of one of Musk’s Tesla Model X’s for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A, the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews.

The astronauts will climb back into one of the Tesla vehicles for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A – the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews.

Here they will say their goodbyes to their families for the last time before they enter the capsule.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: ‘We’re launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.’

‘We haven’t done this really since 2011, so this is a unique moment in time.’

‘Bob and Doug are cool as cucumbers.’

‘They are absolutely itching to go fly. So these are the best that America has to offer and, yes, it is emotional for me because a lot is riding on this.’

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is named after the Star Wars Millennium Falcon, the number 9 refers to the nine Merlin engines which power the first stage of its flight; with another Merlin vacuum engine powering the second stage.

Falcon 9 generates just over 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space. The first stage engines are gradually throttled near the end of first-stage to limit acceleration as the rocket's mass decreases with the burning of fuel. The Falcon 9 then releases the lower section of the rocket called 'the booster,' using a fully-pneumatic system, as opposed to traditional pyrotechnic systems. The remaining single Merlin vacuum engine then delivers the Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS

Falcon 9 generates just over 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space. The first stage engines are gradually throttled near the end of first-stage to limit acceleration as the rocket's mass decreases with the burning of fuel. The Falcon 9 then releases the lower section of the rocket called 'the booster,' using a fully-pneumatic system, as opposed to traditional pyrotechnic systems. The remaining single Merlin vacuum engine then delivers the Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS

Falcon 9 generates just over 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space. The first stage engines are gradually throttled near the end of first-stage to limit acceleration as the rocket’s mass decreases with the burning of fuel. The Falcon 9 then releases the lower section of the rocket called ‘the booster,’ using a fully-pneumatic system, as opposed to traditional pyrotechnic systems. The remaining single Merlin vacuum engine then delivers the Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after its arrival to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after its arrival to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after its arrival to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

The ship stands at nearly 230ft tall and burns cryogenic liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) to give it enough grunt to launch as much as 25 tons into a low orbit around Earth.

‘We’re expecting a smooth ride but we’re expecting a loud ride,’ said Behnken, who, like Hurley, also flew in the shuttles twice.

When Falcon 9 heads into orbit, it will be traveling at speeds of 17,000 miles per hour.

Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will validate the performance of the craft by testing the environmental control system, displays, maneuvering thrusters and other technologies.

About 24 hours after take-off, Crew Dragon should be in position to dock with the ISS and will do so autonomously.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be joined with the other members on the space station and become part of the Expedition 63 crew.

The astronauts will climb back into one of the Tesla vehicles for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A – the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews. Here they will say their goodbyes to their families for the last time before they enter the capsule. The pair completed their dress rehearsal (pictured) over the weekend

The astronauts will climb back into one of the Tesla vehicles for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A – the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews. Here they will say their goodbyes to their families for the last time before they enter the capsule. The pair completed their dress rehearsal (pictured) over the weekend

The astronauts will climb back into one of the Tesla vehicles for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A – the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews. Here they will say their goodbyes to their families for the last time before they enter the capsule. The pair completed their dress rehearsal (pictured) over the weekend

Illustration shows Crew Dragon Capsule's journey back from the to the ISS in March 2019, all three stages of the mission - launch, docking, undocking and landing - went smoothly

Illustration shows Crew Dragon Capsule's journey back from the to the ISS in March 2019, all three stages of the mission - launch, docking, undocking and landing - went smoothly

Illustration shows Crew Dragon Capsule’s journey back from the to the ISS in March 2019, all three stages of the mission – launch, docking, undocking and landing – went smoothly 

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with its nose cone open to expose the docking mechanism, approaches the International Space Station's Harmony module in 2019

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with its nose cone open to expose the docking mechanism, approaches the International Space Station's Harmony module in 2019

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with its nose cone open to expose the docking mechanism, approaches the International Space Station’s Harmony module in 2019

Kirk Shireman, manager, NASA International Space Station Program, said: ‘I think the on-orbit crew is definitely ready for some company, and very much looking forward to the launch this Wednesday.’

‘The ISS team is ready to support the docking of Crew Dragon.’

While those living in Florida will have a front row seat for Launch America, Britons will also be able to see the rocket soar across the night sky at 9:50pm tonight.

The Met Office has forecast clear skies for this evening, meaning the Falcon’s ascent should be visible across the country.

British astronaut Tim Peake told the Today program the rocket will be visible if Britons look west.

‘If you go outside at 9:50pm you’ll actually see it fly over if you look to the west!,’ he said.

President Donald Trump gestures towards the U.S. Space Force flag during a presentation of the flag in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2020. He is expected to attend Kennedy with his family along with VP Mike Pence to watch the first manned flight from US soil in nine years

President Donald Trump gestures towards the U.S. Space Force flag during a presentation of the flag in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2020. He is expected to attend Kennedy with his family along with VP Mike Pence to watch the first manned flight from US soil in nine years

President Donald Trump gestures towards the U.S. Space Force flag during a presentation of the flag in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2020. He is expected to attend Kennedy with his family along with VP Mike Pence to watch the first manned flight from US soil in nine years

‘In fact, if you go out at 9:30pm you’ll see the International Space Station fly over and then SpaceX will catch up.’

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge told MailOnline: ‘Most of the UK can anticipate clear skies this evening.

‘However, an area of rain will affect northern and western Scotland.

‘Elsewhere it is expected to remain dry although there is a signal for thin and patchy cloud from Kent to northern England and southern Scotland.’

The launch, which is due to be watched by President Donald Trump, will also be streamed live through NASA’s TV channel.

The Falcon 9 and International Space Station will look like two tiny shining lights as they cross the British sky.

President Donald Trump will attend Kennedy with his family along with VP Mike Pence to watch the first manned flight from US soil in nine years, with the weather looking 60 percent favorable, despite earlier fears of thunderstorms.

Last week, the president joked with reporters at the White House: ‘I’m thinking about going. That will be next week. To the rocket launch. I hope you’re all going to join me … I’d like to put you in the rocket and get rid of you for awhile.’

The White House has portrayed the launch as an extension of Trump’s promise to reassert American dominance in space. The President signed a $738 billion defense spending bill back in December, officially marking the creation of the Space Force, a sixth branch of the armed forces which will be devoted to space operations.

‘Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,’ Trump said in a statement.

Source: dailymail US

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