Kennedy Space Center

When NASA astronauts launch from the Kennedy Space Center, it will be the first time humans have blasted off from the U.S. since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

The pilot of that final shuttle mission was Doug Hurley, and he's aboard again Wednesday, ready to make history with the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.

This week, NASA and the commercial company SpaceX are set to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in a new capsule. This is the first launch by NASA of astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, but it's happening in the middle of a pandemic.

Here are some of the ways that the coronavirus will, and won't, change the plans for the space agency's latest launch.

Astronauts have been quarantining since before it was cool.

In Trump's NASA Budget, Florida Stands To Gain

Feb 11, 2020

The Trump administration is asking Congress for more than $25 billion to fund NASA next year. Florida stands to gain if the budget is passed by Congress. 

The budget is merely a request. Ultimately it’s up to Congress to appropriate the money.

The budget proposal for 2021 is a 12 percent increase from last year and fully funds NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft — two programs with large footholds at Kennedy Space Center.

Fifty years ago, an estimated 530 million people gathered around their TVs to watch astronauts take off from Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Center on the Apollo 11 Space Shuttle for the first mission to the moon. 

Florida Sets Its Sights On A New Era In Space

Feb 24, 2019
SPACEX via WMFE

Could Florida be the base for a new branch of the military to handle threats in space?

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis asked President Trump to place the headquarters for the new Space Force Combatant Command in Cape Canaveral, tweeting that it would be “a logical fit” for the state.

WMFE’s Space Reporter Brendan Byrne said Friday on The Florida Roundup that having Space Command headquarters in the state would indeed be a natural progression for a fast growing space industry in Florida.

NASA

NASA’s mobile launch pad is on the move. Engineers are testing the pad ahead of the first mission of the SLS rocket.

The 11 million pound mobile launcher was moved from Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to pad 39B where ground system engineers are testing the fit.

NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, will be assembled in the VAB on top of the mobile launcher. Then, a massive vehicle called the Crawler-Transporter 2 will move the pad and the rocket to the launch site at a speed of about .7 miles per hour.

Associated Press

Guests for Sundial, Monday, February 5, 2018

Brendan Byrne, space reporter at WMFE in Orlando. The host of the podcast "Are We There Yet?"

Tim Cerio is a current commissioner on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. The commission is in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday for a public hearing.

Elon Musk via Instagram

A SpaceX “Starman” is aboard the company’s new rocket that’s set to make its launch debut from Florida.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk revealed pictures of the surprise passenger Monday. The figure is in the driver’s seat of Musk’s red Tesla Roadster, the cargo for Tuesday’s first test flight of the Falcon Heavy. The right hand is on the wheel, the left arm rests on the convertible’s door.

Joey Roulette / WMFE

Vice President Mike Pence promised to return Americans to the moon during his visit Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center. Pence touted a commitment to returning to the moon, and putting humans on Mars under the leadership of President Trump.

“We will return our nation to the moon. We will go to Mars, and we will go still further to places that our children’s children can only imagine.”

WMFE

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Witnesses say the explosion rattled buildings miles away from the launch pad. Flames and black smoke could be seen at the pad, and the plume of smoke was picked up by local radar.

“SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload,” says SpaceX spokesperson John Taylor. “Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”

Officials say there is no threat to public safety.

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