• Astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley entered routine quarantine May 13
  • Quarantining the astronauts two weeks before launch is a standard practice
  • The launch of SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is targeted for May 27

Two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley, have entered routine quarantine ahead of the upcoming historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS). With or without the pandemic, astronauts undergo the quarantine procedure to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses.

It will be the first time a SpaceX spacecraft will transport NASA astronauts, and the first time in almost a decade that American astronauts will launch from the United States to the ISS aboard an American spacecraft. Since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, American astronauts have had to hitch a ride from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to the space station.

With just two weeks away from the SpaceX Demo-2 mission launch May 27, astronauts Behnken and Hurley entered routine quarantine Wednesday. Although the quarantine seems fitting for the current global situation with the coronavirus pandemic, astronaut quarantine or "flight crew health stabilization" is actually a standard practice for the crew in the weeks before all missions to the ISS.

This routine is done to make sure that the astronauts are healthy and will not accidentally carry any contagious diseases to the ISS, a practice that is particularly significant because of the pandemic.

"Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine helps ensure the Demo-2 crew arrives healthy, protecting themselves and their colleagues already on the station," NASA said in a statement.

Typically, pre-flight quarantines for astronauts taking off from Kazakhstan are done near the launch site, but for the Demo-2 mission, astronauts have two choices. If they can "maintain quarantine conditions" at home, they can stay there until they travel to Kennedy Space Center on May 20. If, for some reason, their homes cannot maintain quarantine conditions, they can choose to stay at the Astronaut Quarantine Facility at Johnson Space Center until they report to the Kennedy Space Center.

Given the coronavirus pandemic, there are additional measures in place for this quarantine. For instance, anyone who has to interact with the astronauts during quarantine will have their temperatures and symptoms tested. Both astronauts as well as those in direct contact with them will also be tested for the coronavirus twice.

SpaceX Crew Dragon
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo 2 could be the first private spacecraft to bring humans to space. Pictured, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk, left, speaks with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley, center, and Bob Behnken, right, who are assigned to fly on the crewed Demo-2 mission after launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Demo-1 mission from firing room four of the Launch Control Center, March 2, 2019, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Joel Kowsky /NASA via Getty Images

If things go according to plan, Behnken and Hurley will embark on the historic SpaceX Demo-2 mission, wherein they will liftoff aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon from Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 p.m. ET on May 27.

Although the public, especially the astronauts' family and friends, can't watch the historic event from the Kennedy Space Center, everyone is encouraged to watch the launch from home.