Payload Blog

Astronauts Launching from America Again

For NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, NASA is working with the American aerospace companies Boeing and SpaceX. The goal is to develop and operate the next generation of human spaceflight. On May 30, 2020, SpaceX launched astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken on a milestone test flight aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Learn more about these two astronauts who have begun a new era of spaceflight from American soil.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Their upcoming flight test is known as Demo-2, short for Demonstration Mission 2.

Douglas Hurley

After growing up in New York state, Douglas Hurley graduated Tulane University in 1988 where he received his commission in the United States Marine Corps. Hurley was assigned as an F/A-18 Project Officer and Test Pilot in 1997 where he completed over 5,500 hours of flight testing.

In 2000, Hurley was selected to be an astronaut and began training. Nine years later, he piloted the STS-127 mission on space shuttle Endeavour. While docked at the ISS, the station had a record 13 astronauts aboard representing all five International Partners of the space station. In 2011, Colonel Hurley piloted his second spaceflight on STS-135, the final space shuttle mission. Hear more from Hurley about his path to becoming a NASA astronaut.

Fun fact – While most astronauts receive the call from NASA to be an astronaut while at their work desks, Doug was instead in the Canadian mountains with no cell service. Luckily, his father brought along a satellite phone so Doug could check his voicemail, and subsequently, call NASA back to confirm his acceptance to the astronaut class.

To learn more, read NASA Astronaut Doug Hurley’s full biography.

Robert (Bob) Behnken

Behnken studied at Washington University in St. Louis where he was commissioned by the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). After graduating, Behnken continued his studies at the California Institute of Technology, where he received his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. Robert was then called to active duty and assigned to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He went on to attend the Air Force Test Pilot School and served as a lead Flight Test Engineer.

Colonel Behnken was chosen to be an astronaut in July 2000. After serving in various offices, including Chief Astronaut, Behnken flew on STS-123 Endeavour to the ISS as the flight deck Mission Specialist. While on the station, he completed three spacewalks. Behnken flew again on STS-130 in 2010, completing another three spacewalks, totaling 27 hours on spacewalks and 708 hours in space. Listen to Bob Behnken discuss how he became a NASA astronaut.

Fun fact – Robert Behnken originally planned to pursue engineering in college, but the Air Force offered Bob a scholarship for a degree in physics. Rather than choosing between the degrees, he graduated with both.

To learn more, read NASA Astronaut Rober Behnken’s full biography.

Stay up to date on astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken, and on the upcoming Commercial Crew SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 launch. For news on launch date and time announcements, launch viewing opportunities and more, follow us on social media or sign up for launch alert emails.