Astronauts arrive at Kennedy Space Center ahead of historic launch

The two astronauts who will end a nine-year launch drought for NASA are now at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), exactly one week before their historic SpaceX flight.

NASA test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived Wednesday afternoon in Florida after a flight from Houston on a NASA jet.

If all goes according to plan, these two men will soon have a date with destiny. They're scheduled to blast off next Wednesday from the same pad where the space shuttle last soared in 2011. That was the last home launch for NASA astronauts.

This time, a private company -- SpaceX -- is providing the lift and the capsule. NASA's commercial crew program has been years in the making.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley (right) pose for the media after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center on May 20, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The astronauts arrived for the May 27th scheduled inaugural flight of SpaceX’s Crew D

Arriving at a small airfield on Kennedy Space Center property. NASA's administrator and the head of KSC say they had to fight the urge to shake the astronauts hands in these coronavirus times.  The astronauts said their training at the Johnson Space Center in Texas had to be changed a bit, because of coronavirus protocol.

"It’s been a huge wrinkle, to say the least, to adjust everyone’s lives and how we do business and how we train and how we operate," Behnken said, "but I think for us in particular it was challenging, because we were at that phase the last year, year-and-a-half, where we were traveling to SpaceX literally every week."

The astronauts will get to see the capsule on Saturday and run some drills. 

"We will have our families in town here in a couple of days," said Hurley. "We’ll get to spend time with them...they have been in strict quarantine to make that a possibility."

An in-flight abort system gives the astronauts the opportunity to break away from the rocket in case of an emergency. They understand the risks but they say that capability gives them comfort, and it is something that the shuttle astronauts never had.