AUSTIN (KXAN) – The first launch to send American astronauts into space from American soil in nearly a decade is scheduled for this Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. EDT.
The launch will also be the first commercial flight to send a human into space. The rocket, capsule and even the space suits are all owned and designed by Space X, entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company that has several operations in Texas.
NASA will provide the astronauts, personnel and the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If the launch is successful, it will be the first step in the company’s plans for space tourism in Texas.
Space Tourism in Texas
Unlike previous spaceships, the Space X ship was designed with tourists in mind, according to Space X. The capsule, called Crew Dragon, has seven seats but only requires four people to run it. The three additional seats can be bought by anyone who can afford them. Each seat runs around $20 million. Several people have already bought tickets for future flights, including a Japanese billionaire. According to NASA, Tom Cruise is scheduled to fly on one of these missions and will shoot a movie on the International Space Station.
Space X has already built a spaceport. A little east of Brownsville, Texas, Space X’s south Texas launch site began operations last year. While no manned craft has launched from the site, the intention is for it to do so in the future, according to Space X.
Heading to Space During a Pandemic
Two astronauts will be sent up as part of this week’s mission, called Demo Two. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have been quarantined for the past few weeks in an effort to avoid carrying any illnesses, including the coronavirus, up to the ISS. They will stay on the station for one to three months while they perform tests on the Crew Dragon capsule.
Space X plans to launch a full crew in early fall of this year. NASA will be live streaming the launch on their website tomorrow, and you can see it on KXAN.com and our Facebook page.