The launch is scheduled for May 27.

By Cailey Rizzo
May 05, 2020
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As two NASA astronauts prepare to take off from U.S. soil for the first time in almost a decade, NASA and SpaceX are asking people to stay home for the launch.

“The challenge that we’re up against right now is we want to keep everybody safe,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a press conference, according to The Associated Press. “And so we’re asking people not to travel to the Kennedy Space Center, and I will tell you that makes me sad to even say it. Boy, I wish we could make this into something really spectacular.”

The launch scheduled for May 27 will be the first one from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in nine years. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will board a SpaceX rocket, destined for the International Space Station (ISS). It is the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft will take people to the ISS.

For past launches, hundreds of thousands of people descended upon the space center and nearby beaches to watch the rockets take off. The last U.S. launch was a space shuttle in 2011. But this year, due to COVID-19, NASA officials are trying to convince the public to stay home.

Local officials have not yet decided if they will open parks, beaches, and roadways on the day of the launch.

Fortunately for space fans around the world, the launch will be streamed online as well as broadcasted on TV so people can watch from home.

Visitors at Playalinda Beach look on as a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on April 11, 2019.
| Credit: GREGG NEWTON/GETTY

Conditions at the Kennedy Space Center have changed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. On the day of the launch, NASA employees will be required to stay at least six feet apart. Face masks and hand sanitizer will be available.

The astronauts are currently in quarantine with their families and will have to start a complete quarantine two weeks before the scheduled launch.

Additionally, astronaut missions have also been affected by coronavirus. Astronauts who joined the ISS last month were required to spend a full month in quarantine before their mission. And just a few weeks later, astronauts who returned to Earth after months away underwent even more rigorous health testing upon coming home.

Thankfully, Americans won’t have to wait another nine years for a rocket launch on home soil. Boeing is working to launch NASA’s commercial crew program, whose first flight could take place within the year, if not within a few months.