2 NASA astronauts will drive a Tesla Model X out to their SpaceX rocket before launching on a historic space mission

NASAFor SpaceX’s crewed rocket launches from Kennedy Space Centre, NASA astronauts will drive a Tesla Model X out to the launchpad.
  • SpaceX is scheduled to launch its first crewed mission, called Demo-2, on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. ET.
  • NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly rocket company’s Crew Dragon spaceship on a mission that may last up to 110 days.
  • NASA chief Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Wednesday that the astronauts will drive out to SpaceX’s launchpad in a Tesla Model X electric SUV.
  • Elon Musk founded SpaceX and is the CEO of Tesla.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Gone are the days of NASA’s quaint astronaut transport buses.

Later this month, two of NASA’s finest will drive a sleek white Tesla Model X out to a launchpad before embarking on a history-making mission with SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, who’s also the CEO of Tesla.

On May 27, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are scheduled to climb aboard SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon spaceship, which will launch to orbit atop a towering Falcon 9 rocket. If successful, the Demo-2 test flight would mark SpaceX’s first-ever mission with people – and the return of American spaceflight after NASA shuttered its space shuttle program nearly a decade ago.

On Wednesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine unveiled the official astronaut transport vehicle for SpaceX’s all-commercial space mission.

“Here’s some news that everyone should love. Check out the Model X that will carry [Behnken] and [Hurley] to the launchpad for the Demo-2 mission!” Bridenstine tweeted, sharing four photos of the car (shown above and below).

Weather and other conditions permitting, Behnken and Hurley will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at 4:33 p.m. ET on May 27. If there’s a last-minute issue, though, the crew will attempt to launch on May 30.

Once in space, their Crew Dragon ship will make its way to the International Space Station, where it will stay up to 110 days before bringing the two astronauts back to Earth.


During the space shuttle era, which lasted from 1981 into 2011, astronauts rode vans to the launchpad, like the Astrovan shown here.

Jim Grossmann/NASANASA’s famous Astrovan, which drove its last astronauts out to the launchpad in July 2011 during the STS-135 mission.

But in January, Behnken and Hurley drove a Tesla Model X out to the launchpad during flight training exercises.

Kim Shiflett/NASA via AP PhotoAstronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken pose in front of a Tesla Model X at a SpaceX launch dress rehearsal at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on January 17, 2020.

To appease picky space fans, it appears NASA, SpaceX, and Tesla agreed to emblazon the space agency’s current blue “meatball” logo on the side …

NASAFor SpaceX’s crewed rocket launches from Kennedy Space Centre, NASA astronauts will drive a Tesla Model X out to the launchpad.

… And, on the Tesla Model X’s back window, NASA’s classic red “worm” logo, which the space agency used from 1975 through 1992.

NASAFor SpaceX’s crewed rocket launches from Kennedy Space Centre, NASA astronauts will drive a Tesla Model X out to the launchpad.

Here’s the Model X in front of NASA’s 526-foot-tall Vertical Assembly Building, which used to integrate space shuttles before flight.

NASAFor SpaceX’s crewed rocket launches from Kennedy Space Centre, NASA astronauts will drive a Tesla Model X out to the launchpad.

Behnken and Hurley will ride it out to Launch Complex 39A, which used to launch Apollo moon missions and space shuttles, and NASA allowed SpaceX to retrofit.

SpaceX via TwitterSpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with its Crew Dragon spaceship on top in a vertical position at Launch Complex 39A.

Then they will ride an elevator to the top to board the Crew Dragon spaceship.

SpaceX/TwitterA view of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to launch astronauts into orbit from US soil.

Kennedy Space Centre/SpaceX via FlickrAn illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, also known as Dragon 2 or Dragon V2, orbiting Earth. (The first Dragon was a cargo and supply ship not designed to carry people.)

For a complete play-by-play of how SpaceX hopes its Demo-2 mission will unfold, check out our full coverage here.

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