Does it take nerves of steel to climb on top of a bomb? Yes it does


Doug Hurley invested 20 years at NASA and discovered his household there. Now, he risks it all.


  • Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken after suit-up operations on Wednesday.


  • Walking out to wave bye-bye to family and friends.


  • After seeing their families for the last time, they will board their trip to the launch pad.


  • Their rocket and spacecraft eventually did not fly due to bad weather.


  • A shot from earlier this year revealing Hurley, in the foreground, and Behnken in the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Yes, those are glasses for the test pilot.


  • Hurley has revealed confidence in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 vehicles.


  • Cool, calm, confident.


Soon after sunrise on the morning of February 1, 2003, Doug Hurley waited on the long runway at Kennedy Space Center for a lorry that would never come.

Just just recently finished to ending up being a full-fledged astronaut, among Hurley’s very first jobs was acting as a “Cape Crusader” for the corps, implying he watched out for the Astronaut Office’s interests in Florida. On this morning, he became part of a little cadre of astronauts to greet seven returning team members on board the space shuttle Columbia

As he waited, Columbia got into pieces as it passed over Texas and other southern US states along its ground track to Florida. Hurley’s good friends died as their spacecraft burned up and disintegrated during their reentry to Earth’s environment. From the start of his career, then, Doug Hurley profoundly comprehended the dangers of the occupation he had simply entered into.

Cool, calm, and positive

One of the most striking features of Wednesday’s countdown toward an ultimately scrubbed launch of a Team Dragon spacecraft was the self-confidence of Hurley, who will command the mission, and his crewmate Bob Behnken. They are friends, which assists. And both have actually enjoyed space twice in the past, so they understand the drill.

But beneath the pomp and scenario of Wednesday’s launch attempt– behind the shiny Teslas and sleek spacesuits– is the reality that climbing up on top of a rocket is more or less like climbing on top of a bomb.

The Falcon 9 rocket has actually taken off once in flight, back in 2015, and another time on the ground during fueling for a static fire test in 2016.

When SpaceX founder Elon Musk consulted with the families of Hurley and Behnken on Wednesday– each is married to an accomplished astronaut, and each has one child– his message to the young boys was simple: SpaceX would do everything possible to bring their fathers home safely However there are no warranties in spaceflight.

A challenging time

Hurley concerned NASA in2000 He had invested about a decade as a Naval Pilot and embellished Marine fighter pilot. He wanted to fly the next thing, and that meant the area shuttle bus. He was not exactly sure what the future held when he showed up for training at Johnson Area Center in Houston in July. “ The majority of astronauts, when you show up here, you’re just pleased to be on the ball club,” he said. “You’re striving to be called into the big game, so to speak.”

It was not an especially advantageous time to be called to the big leagues. NASA’s astronaut corps had swollen to 150 males and females in 2000, about two-thirds of whom had never ever flown into space. There was a long line to reach orbit. After Hurley finished from “astronaut-candidate” status, the Columbia tragedy occurred.

The area shuttle would not go back to flight for more than two and a half years while NASA investigated the reason for the catastrophe (foam falling off the lorry’s external tank throughout ascent). Additionally, the Bush administration began to consider a post space-shuttle future and set an end date for the lorry to stop zipping the end of the years.

A younger Hurley on the space shuttle's mid deck on STS-127 in 2009.

Enlarge/ A younger Hurley on the area shuttle’s mid deck on STS-127 in 2009.


” All of us who had simply pertained to NASA believed we might not even get an opportunity to fly on the shuttle bus,” Hurley stated. “It was a difficult time for a variety of reasons.”

In the end, Hurley’s effort amazed adequate people to get 2 shuttle flights. He was the pilot on STS-127 in 2009, a complex 17- day objective to set up a Japanese module to the International Spaceport Station. Hurley deftly managed the demanding robotic operations on orbit. To his surprise, he was chosen as the pilot for STS-135 in 2011, the prominent final mission prior to the shuttle bus’s retirement. After that objective, anybody going to the spaceport station for many years would do so from Kazakhstan.

Finding a household

Even as Hurley was getting his first taste of space, he was likewise falling for Karen Nyberg, a fellow member of the class of 2000 astronauts. When he flew in 2011, Hurley and Nyberg had only just recently had a child, Jack. Nyberg, too, was training for her second objective into area– an almost half-year endeavor that she would ultimately undertake in2013 He was simply 44 years old when the area shuttle bus program ended, Hurley believed his spacing days may be over.

” Understanding that was the last shuttle flight, and understanding that Karen was flying less than 2 years later on, I did not really have the expectation of flying again,” he said.

Doug Hurley, left, speaks to his wife, Karen Nyberg, and son Jack on Wednesday.

Enlarge/ Doug Hurley, left, speaks to his spouse, Karen Nyberg, and child Jack on Wednesday.


When he looked so smooth throughout Wednesday’s walkout, it wasn’t simply an act. Hurley is a cool character. Having talked to him a variety of times in current years, I understand Hurley is confident in SpaceX, with its rocket and spacecraft, and the NASA authorities involved. (Jack, too, is a big SpaceX fan). He knows how difficult engineers from the company and NASA have worked to put him on top of the bomb. He understands the dangers, and he accepts them. It’s his job.

He likewise would repeat the last two decades even without the going-to-space things.

” To be quite truthful with you, this is where I fulfilled Karen,” he stated of NASA.

Listing image by SpaceX

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