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Astronaut Launches And Moon Rockets: Kennedy Space Center Ready For Busy Year

NASA’s Pegasus Barge arrives at the Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27 to make its first delivery to Kennedy in support of the agency’s Artemis missions. Photo: NASA/Mike Downs

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It’s going to be a busy year at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center — from human launches to the International Space Station to the arrival of the agency’s newest moon rocket. KSC Director Bob Cabana said the center is ready.

After a successful flight safety test last month, SpaceX is one step closer to launching astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, targeting a crewed test launch this spring.

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said the center is ready to support crewed missions from Florida once again — a first since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

“I do believe that within the first half of this year, we’re going to be flying crews on a U.S. rocket to the International Space Station from here at the Cape,” said Cabana. “Hopefully, maybe even before the middle of the year, we’ll have two partners that can do that.”

SpaceX said it’s targeting a crewed test launch this spring, launching NASA astronauts Bob Behnkin and Doug Hurley on a test flight to the station. The company completed a successful uncrewed mission to the ISS in March.

Boeing is also working to launch astronauts for NASA, but an uncrewed test flight in December didn’t go as planned. The agency is evaluating the issue and possible delays to its schedule.

And for NASA’s moon rocket SLS, it’s undergoing testing this summer at a facility in Mississippi before heading down to the Cape. The agency is planning an uncrewed mission around the moon, called Artemis 1, as early as the end of this year, although it’s likely that launch will slip into 2021.

“We’re in the process of a review right now. We’ll be setting a firmer launch date here in the not too distant future. We’re pressing ahead. Obviously we’d like to see it launched this year, but we’ll see,” said Cabana.

Kennedy Space Center will also host the launch of two flagship science missions this year. The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter launches from Cape Canaveral this month on a mission to explore the poles of the sun. NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will also launch from the Space Coast this summer, with a target window opening in July.


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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. He also helps produce WMFE's public affairs show "Intersection," working with host ... Read Full Bio »

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