Despite the coronavirus pandemic, NASA and SpaceX announced Friday that they are continuing preparations to resume human spaceflight on May 27, after nine years of disruption. Additionally, he is currently working on respirators to deal with the virus.
Two astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, in the southeastern United States, towards the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA Administrator Jim Brindenstine said in a conference call that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule will resume manned space flight for the fifth time, after the legendary Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs.
The mission is taking place “in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It is a high priority mission for the United States of America,” he added.
Due to this health emergency situation, “we ask people not to go to the Kennedy Space Center,” said the NASA chief. “I’m really sorry, I’m sorry I can’t make this more spectacular,” he confessed.
The mission to the ISS Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the two NASA astronauts who have trained for years for this demo mission called Demo-2, will remain on the ISS for between one and four months.
SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk, creator of Tesla, which has been supplying ISS since 2012, has positioned itself as the leader of private space launches thanks to its reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
Takeoff is scheduled for May 27 at 8:42 GMT from the Kennedy Space Center, and will dock with the ISS a day later.
In addition to its space plans, NASA is making significant contributions to developing solutions to the coronavirus crisis. In particular, a new high-pressure respirator is now being developed that could be used to treat patients and help alleviate demand for the limited supply of machines from the United States.
Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, designed the device they called VITAL (short for Locally Accessible Fan Intervention Technology).
The space agency announced Saturday that the design was approved for emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
A free license is offered for the device in an attempt to jumpstart the manufacturing process, according to Fred Farina, head of innovation and corporate partnerships at Caltech, which runs the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA.
“Now that we have a design, we are working to pass the baton to the medical community and ultimately to patients as quickly as possible,” Farina said in a statement. “To that end, we are offering royalty-free licensing designs during the time of the pandemic.”