On Wednesday, May 27, Apalachin native Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken will be the next Americans in space when they launch from Kennedy Space Center in the SpaceX Crew Dragon on a Falcon 9 rocket.  The mission takes them to the International Space Station for a stay of one to four months if not longer.

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Tonight (Friday) at 7:30 PM at Kopernik Observatory there will be a virtual Return to Friday Night Programs with a preview of Wednesday's launch called "America's Return to Flight".  Tish Bresee is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and also a staff member at Kopernik and will provide background and insight on the crew members, the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon Capsule and the overall mission.

With the COVID-19 situation tonight's presentation will be on YouTube Livestreaming.  Officials at Kopernik say for those not familiar with their You Tube channel can visit their website for details at:   kopernik.org

Colonel Hurley has been in space before when he flew as a pilot for the STS-135 mission.  Prior to that he piloted Space Shuttle Mission STS-127 which launched on July 15, 2009. That was the final flight of the Space Shuttle program and occurred in July of 2011.  According to information provided by Kopernik Observatory this is going to be the final flight test for the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.

This Demo-2 mission is planned to be the last major step before NASA's Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational missions to the International Space Station.  Colonel Doug Hurley was born in Endicott and is a 1984 graduate of Owego Free Academy.  With extensive flight training as a member of the United States Marine Corps he was selected as a pilot by NASA in July, 2000.