For the first time ever, the Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that is set to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, will have a crew on board as it makes its way into space. The Crew Dragon has docked on the ISS in the past, but this will be the first time that it is doing so as a human-crewed vehicle. The men on board the spacecraft will be Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken, two individuals who are no strangers to NASA's space program.
Both Hurley and Behnken joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2000. The two men also both have a military past, as Hurley was a pilot in the Marines, and Behnken was a pilot in the United States Air Force. The astronauts have some experience in traveling to space, as they have each flown to space twice on space shuttle missions (although they have never done so together), as the New York Times reported. Hurley flew on the final space shuttle mission in 2011, piloting the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
The NYT reported that Hurley and Behnken are both married to fellow astronauts from their class. Behnken is married to oceanographer Megan McArthur, with whom he shares a son Theodore. Hurley wed Karen Nyberg, an astronaut who recently retired from NASA at the end of March, with whom he shares son, Jack. Hurley got the approval from his son for the upcoming space mission, as Jack told him how impressed he was with Crew Dragon's name. The astronaut related, "I think it's a pretty cool looking vehicle, and my 10-year-old son certainly thinks it's a cool vehicle with a cool name, Dragon. So I got the thumbs up from him, and in the end, that's all that matters."
According to Behnken, the close relationship that he and Hurley have been able to develop over the past two decades has been incredibly helpful as they prepare for Crew Dragon's launch. He said this month during an interview with media, "We're kind of at the point in our experience — whether it's flying in the T-38 or executing in a SpaceX simulation or approaching and docking to the International Space Station — where we, in addition to finishing each other's sentences, we can predict, you know, almost by body language, what the person's opinion is or what they're going to do, what their next action is going to be."