SpaceX Gets Go-Ahead for NASA Astronaut Launch Next Week

NASA officials gave the go-ahead on Friday for SpaceX and the agency to continue preparations for a historic liftoff of two astronauts on a rocket from Florida to the International Space Station next week.

The launch, scheduled for 4:33 p.m. on Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, may be the start of a new era in spaceflight, one in which NASA relies on private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch astronauts — a task it used to handle itself.

As during the space shuttle era, NASA conducts what it calls a flight readiness review about a week before launch to ensure that the spacecraft and launch systems are ready and that any significant concerns have been resolved. The review, which began on Thursday, stretched into a second day.

“There are no significant open issues, I am happy to report,” said Stephen Jurczyk, the associate administrator at the space agency who led the review. “At the end, it was a very, very clean review.”

On Friday afternoon, SpaceX conducted what is known as a “static fire” of the rocket, testing the engines for a few seconds while keeping the rocket held down on the launchpad. On Saturday, the two astronauts, Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken, will take part in a rehearsal of the launch procedures.

Both NASA and SpaceX officials said they are taking the time they need and not rushing.

“Just as we need to take care of each other through these interesting times, we’re needing to take care of the crew and bring them home,” said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX. “On that sacred journey together, we are all holding each other accountable.”

While the preparations are proceeding smoothly, the decision to move forward came amid new turmoil at NASA. The head of the agency’s human spaceflight program, Douglas L. Loverro, unexpectedly quit on Monday, six months after he took the job. Mr. Loverro, who would have lead the flight readiness review instead of Mr. Jurczyk, said in an interview with The Washington Post that his departure had nothing to do with next week’s mission. But his resignation added to doubts about the Trump administration’s pledge to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.

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