After a spectacular launch on Saturday of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, the two men made the long 19 hour trek to their ultimate destination at the International Space Station.
The launch itself was a sight to behold, as the two-colonel crew rode in their stylized SpaceX spacesuits and manned the controls using three touchscreens mounted in front of them, rather than the vast array of knobs and switches that adorned previous American spacecraft. In a breathtaking example of American ingenuity, the first stage rocket returned to earth under its own power, landing upright on a barge at sea like something out of a science fiction movie. It wasn’t long after that we could see Behnken (a U.S. Air Force colonel) and Hurley (a retired Marine Corps colonel) cross into the expanse of space, highlighted by a stuffed dinosaur that could be spotted floating around the cabin of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule the men flew.
It wouldn’t be until the following morning that we’d see these two brave men dock with the International Space Station, where they were greeted by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. But while the three crew members already aboard the ISS wore the blue jumpsuits that we’ve come to expect from astronauts, Behnken and Hurley came floating through the hatch dressed like a pair of colonels attending a conference, adorned in tucked-in polo shirts and khaki pants.
This is the first time in human history @NASA_Astronauts have entered the @Space_Station from a commercially-made spacecraft. @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug have finally arrived to the orbiting laboratory in @SpaceX's Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. pic.twitter.com/3t9Ogtpik4
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
While the uniform of the day hasn’t been a topic of significant discussion, it likely was a fairly intentional choice. In NASA’s publicity work leading up to this launch, they repeatedly emphasized that these new SpaceX crewed launches were an important stepping stone toward the possibility of publicly available commercial space travel. The premise behind a great deal of SpaceX’s work is driving launch costs down through the adoption of reusable rocket platforms and cutting edge production methods. The goal is to continue to drive costs down until space is no longer a place for only national astronauts, but eventually, for all mankind.
In that same frame of mind, then, choosing the “business casual” khakis and polo shirts helped make the long trek from Florida to the International Space Station look less like a military operation and more like one heck of a road trip for these two consummate professionals.
We here at Sandboxx News salute you, Colonels Behnken and Hurley–for your service to our country, your contributions to our space program, and of course, for maintaining appropriate civilian attire even in space.