"Well, I'm crying."

Virtual Hugs

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are officially on their way to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Their journey could become the first time astronauts have returned to the International Space Station from American soil since 2011. Their ride is a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that’s lifting off at 4:33 pm Eastern time — if everything goes according to plan and the weather plays along.

But thanks to the ongoing pandemic, their goodbyes to their loved ones were bittersweet: Behnken and Hurley had to resort to giving their families a “virtual hug” from six feet away, thanks to social distancing rules — and to ensure that the coronavirus won’t make it into space.

Better Safe

It was an emotional scene. “Well, I’m crying,” Axios Space editor Miriam Kramer wrote on Twitter.

Both astronauts have been under quarantine since May 13. Contact with others has been kept to a minimum.

SpaceX has already completed more than twenty trips to the space station to date, albeit without passengers on board. Here’s to hoping Behnken and Hurely make it to the space station safe and sound as well.

More on the launch: Stormy Weather May Delay SpaceX’s Historic Launch


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