CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Anticipation continued to build Saturday as NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Dough Hurley rode out to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, but not before giving America a personal look at their touching goodbyes to their families.
Hurley and Behnken are the test pilots tasked with flying to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Saturday’s mission is the commercial space company’s first crewed flight of the space capsule and also marks the return of human spaceflight from the U.S. since the shuttle program ended in 2011.
Forty minutes after the astronauts suited up, the two walked out of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, where their families waited behind yellow ropes to send the space explorers off.
The families are familiar with a touching moment, as both Behnken and Hurley married former astronauts who have each have had their own rendezvous with space. Hurley is married to Karen Nyberg, a veteran astronaut herself. Nyberg, now a retired astronaut, has spent a combined 180 days in space and lived on the ISS for six months. The two have a 10-year-old son named Jack.
Behnken is married to astronaut Megan McArthur. She was part of the final repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope and has flown on one space shuttle mission. She and Behnken have a 6-year-old son Theodore, affectionately known as Theo.
The four were there to wave goodbye to Behnken and Hurley, and unlike Wednesday’s first attempt, this time the astronauts rolled down their Tesla windows for a more personal departure. Hurley was seen grabbing his son’s and wife’s hands before driving off. Theo was lifted to eye-level for a closer look at his dad behind his SpaceX helmet.
After their heartfelt goodbye, the astronauts drove off in the backseat of a Tesla to board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon space capsule.
The Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off at 3:22 p.m. Saturday. NASA and SpaceX keeping an eye on the weather conditions.
Once the rocket lifts off, Crew Dragon will take 19 hours to fly to the International Space Station.
You can keep up with live launch updates here.