After the original launch date was delayed due to inclement weather, Space X’ Crew Dragon successfully launched on May 30, 2020, the first commercial manned mission to space with two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. These astronauts are the first to be launched into space from American soil since the last space shuttle launched on July 8, 2011. Just who are they?
Robert L. Behnken is no stranger to space. “Bob” began his career with NASA as an astronaut in 2000, and at 49 years old has logged over 708 hours in space, been aboard two space shuttle flights, and completed six spacewalks (totaling over 37 hours). He has served as Chief of the Space Station Operations Branch and NASA’s Chief Astronaut (2012-2015).
Before joining NASA Bob dedicated himself to the study of science and engineering, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Washington University in 1992, a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in 1992, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1993, and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1997. He then served the Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps and later attended the Air Force Test Pilot Scholl before serving as the lead Flight Test Engineer. He also held the rank of colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Bob serves as a joint operations commander on the Crew Dragon mission, responsible for docking the Dragon with the International Space Station and any activities while on the Station.
He has received a number of awards throughout his career, including the NASA Space Flight Medal (2008, 2010), and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2011).
Bob was born in St. Ann, Missouri in 1970. He is married to K. Megan McArthur, fellow astronaut and 2000 classmates. Together they have a six-year-old son, Theodore.
Douglas G. Hurley also joined NASA as an astronaut in 2000. Another veteran of space, “Doug” has spent over 680 hours in space, has piloted two space shuttle flights, including the final launch in 2011. He served as the lead Astronaut Support Personnel on shuttle missions STS-107 and STS-121; NASA Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center; Astronaut Office Safety Chief; Assistant Director, New Programs, for the Flight Crew Operations Directorate; and Assistant Director for the Commercial Crew Program. He serves as spacecraft commander on the Crew Dragon mission, responsible for the launch, re-entry, and ocean recovery.
Doug received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tulane University in 1988 and went on to join the United States Marine Corps, where he participated in flight training and served as a Naval Aviator. He attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1997, and prior to joining NASA served as the Operations Officer of the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron.
Among the awards, Doug has received are the Stephen A. Hazelrigg Memorial Award for the best Test Pilot/Engineer Team, and the Legion of Merit.
Doug was born in Endicott, New York in 1966. He is married to Karen Nyberg, a fellow astronaut and 2000 classmate. Together they have a ten-year-old son, Jack.
Former Classmates, Best Friends
During their time as classmates in the NASA training program, Bob and Doug became best friends, and they have since shared missions together. They both served as Astronaut Support Personnel, of “Cape Crusaders”, on the Space Shuttle Columbia’s mission in 2003, a mission that ended in tragedy when the shuttle was lost on its return journey.
The two astronauts bring a wealth of credentials and experience to the Crew Dragon mission. In memory of the Space Shuttle program and the orbiter that began their careers, Bob and Doug named their capsule Endeavour.