How SpaceX and NASA are launching astronauts into space during a pandemic

NASA’s Final Space Shuttle Flight Lifts Off From Cape CanaveralThe last time a rocket launched from US soil, nearly one million people gathered to watch | Photo by Carla Cioffi/NASA via Getty Images

Ahead of this week’s launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, NASA is working to keep the enduring threat of COVID-19 at bay during the historic launch. To protect its astronauts, ground crew, and potential visitors, NASA has adjusted their approach to this highly anticipated event. If successful, the launch will not only break the US’s nine-year drought of crewed launches to the ISS, but it will also make history as the first time a private spacecraft has carried people into orbit.

“We’re taking extra precautions,” said Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, during a press call this month. On the ground, the agency is introducing temperature checks and physical distancing at Mission Control.

A successful…

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