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(May 22) NASA is inviting the public to help celebrate a historic milestone in human spaceflight as it prepares for #LaunchAmerica – the first flight into orbit of American astronauts on American rockets from American soil since the end of the space shuttle era in 2011.
Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which is targeted for lift off at 4:33 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 27, this mission will send NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Members of the public can attend the launch virtually, receiving mission updates and opportunities normally received by on-site guests.
“Through NASA’s virtual launch experience, we make it possible for more people than ever to watch the beginning of this new era in human spaceflight,” said Bettina Inclán, NASA’s associate administrator for Communications. “We’re already seeing people participate online with the #LaunchAmerica hashtag and helping build the excitement for this historic moment.”
Demo-2 will be SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon craft and its first test with astronauts aboard. This final test flight prior to NASA certification and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.
The Falcon 9 rocket will launch from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But, the excitement will be felt across the country and around the world, with virtual launch parties and other events to help usher in this new era of spaceflight as NASA and its commercial partners take the next bold step toward to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024 as part of the agency’s Artemis program.
Watch the launch and all prelaunch activities on NASA TV, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. You also can share reasons you are excited for the launch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #LaunchAmerica for a chance to be shared on our social media channels.
But, before then, there are a lot of other ways people can get involved with this historic mission now. The virtual events taking place include:
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President Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal aid from two Democratic-led states that are expanding vote-by-mail efforts because of the coronavirus pandemic. He falsely claimed Michigan was mailing out millions of absentee ballots, rather than applications, and he inaccurately stated Nevada’s plan to provide residents with mail-in ballots was illegal, saying it’d create “a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S.”
While health officials recommend absentee ballots, Trump has publicly worried that increased voter turnout from mail-in voting will doom the GOP—even though he voted absentee in Florida’s primary in March. He later withdrew his threat to refuse funding, but the uproar raised fresh concerns he could reject the outcome of the 2020 election if he doesn’t win.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday reported 106,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in new Covid-19 infections since the pandemic began, with most occurring in only four countries, including 45,251 in the U.S. and 9,263 in Russia.
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