Nasa reveals Tesla car that will drive astronauts to first US crewed rocket launch in years

Vehicle replaces much more traditional 'Astrovan'

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 14 May 2020 09:55 BST
(Nasa/Jim Bridenstine)

Nasa has revealed the Tesla car that will drive astronauts to the first crewed launch on US soil in years.

The Model X will take two astronauts – Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken – to the launchpad from which they will be sent on the first crewed mission to launch from the US in nearly 10 years.

The Tesla was presumably chosen because the launch will be conducted by its sister company SpaceX, both of which are owned by Elon Musk. SpaceX will provide both the rocket and the Crew Dragon capsule that will send the astronauts on their mission to the International Space Station.

It will be the first time that astronauts have been sent from the US since the end of the Space Shuttle programme, in 2011. For 25 years, astronauts taking part in those missions were carried the nine miles to the launchpad in the iconic "Astrovan", which resembled an Airstream caravan.

The Tesla is much smaller than that famous truck, but the astronauts are understood to have already checked that they can fit inside.

The Demo-2 Mission is scheduled to launch on 27 May. As well as being an opportunity for the two astronauts to head to the International Space Station, it will be the final test of SpaceX's capsule before it is approved for use in Nasa missions.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are working on their spacecraft, as Nasa looks to private companies to send its astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond. Boeing is working on an astronaut-carrying truck that more closely resembles the Astrovan of old, but is not likely to launch crewed missions for at least another year.

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