• The Demo 2 mission will be SpaceX's first human spaceflight to the ISS
  • NASA plans to proceed with the launch of the mission in May
  • The COVID-19 outbreak could affect details of the mission

NASA has released an update regarding the first human launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). Although the agency is pushing for the mission to proceed as scheduled, NASA noted that the current COVID-19 outbreak could affect the launch event.

As a commercial partner of NASA, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission will transport astronauts to the ISS. Since 2011, NASA has been relying on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to ferry humans to the space station. This means that SpaceX’s upcoming mission will serve as the first time that astronauts will launch from the U.S. in almost a decade.

NASA has scheduled the launch of the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission to take place on May 15 at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For the mission, Space X will launch its Dragon spacecraft using its Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon will be carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

In preparation for the event, NASA has opened the accreditation process for members of the media looking to cover the event. According to the agency, the accreditation deadline for members of international media is April 17, while the local press may submit their requests until April 24. All accreditation requests should be submitted through NASA’s media website.

Although it seems NASA is ready to proceed with the launch of the mission in May, the agency noted that the schedule of the event could still change depending on the country’s current situation.

Specifically, NASA stated that it is currently monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the country and the agency. Depending on new guidelines that will be released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NASA may decide to restrict the access of the media to the event.

It is also possible for the launch event to get postponed due to the outbreak.

“NASA is proactively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it evolves,” the agency explained in a statement. “The agency will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer and communicate any updates that may impact mission planning or media access, as they become available.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon Docking to ISS
This artist illustration shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docking to the International Space Station. SpaceX is one of two American companies working with NASA to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems, restoring the nation’s human launch capability to and from the station. SpaceX/ Public Domain