Crew Dragon Astronaut Launches His Own Rocket Before SpaceX's Historic Launch For NASA

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken launched a model rocket and played with a spaceflight simulator a day before Crew Dragon's historic mission.

Before embarking on the originally scheduled launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon, NASA astronaut Bob Behnken practiced his spaceflight skills by launching his own rocket. He also used the company's online flight simulator to fly the Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX was supposed to launch its Crew Dragon capsule on May 27 using its Falcon 9 rocket. Unfortunately, concerns about the weather prompted SpaceX to delay and reschedule the mission.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley listen as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gives remarks after the crew arrived at the Launch and Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Florida. NASA/Bill Ingalls

SpaceX's Historic Mission

The upcoming mission, dubbed as Demo-2, is being regarded as a historic event since it will mark SpaceX's first human spaceflight using the Crew Dragon mission. For the mission, Behnken along with fellow NASA astronaut Doug Hurley will be transported to the ISS.

The mission will be the first time that astronauts will launch from U.S. soil in almost ten years. Also, it will demonstrate SpaceX's capability of providing crewed commercial spaceflights for NASA.

Behnken's Pre-Launch Activities

On May 26, the day before the mission, Behnken was busy preparing for his own rocket launch. Through photos posted on Twitter, the astronaut showed his followers that he went to a beach and launched a model rocket. Based on the photo, Behnken launched an Amazon model rocket by Estes. Standing at about 30 inches tall, this model rocket can reach altitudes of up to 650 feet. It also comes with an onboard pre-assembled parachute designed to give the rocket a safe landing.

Aside from launching a rocket, Behnken also spent the day honing his spaceflight skills by playing the simulator released by SpaceX. This program lets users experience what it's like to fly the Crew Dragon capsule from Earth and dock with the ISS.

Demo-2's New Launch Schedule

Following the delay on Wednesday, Behnken and Hurley have been rescheduled to proceed with the Demo-2 mission on Saturday (May 30). Lift-off will begin at around 3:22 p.m. EDT. In preparation for the upcoming mission, Behnken noted that he and Hurley are fully aware of the risks involved. After all, as a test flight, Demo-2 will serve as the first time that SpaceX will launch humans into space using the Crew Dragon. According to Behnken, he has accepted the risks that come with the mission.

"We've had the luxury over the last five-plus years to be deeply embedded and understand the trades that were made," Behnken stated, according to Space News. "I think we're really comfortable with it and we think that those trades have been made appropriately. As far as insight goes, we've probably had more than any crew has in recent history."

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