Two NASA astronauts are now in quarantine ahead of historic SpaceX launch
They've already been in a bubble for months, and it's not because of COVID-19.
Eric MackContributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is firstname.lastname@example.org.
ExpertiseSolar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/Credentials
Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The first astronauts to hitch a ride to space in a SpaceX Crew Dragon are also the first humans to leave the planet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have begun a mandatory quarantine two weeks ahead of their scheduled May 27 launch to the International Space Station.
What might surprise you is that the quarantine isn't because of the coronavirus.
"'Flight crew health stabilization' is a routine part of the final weeks before liftoff for all missions to the space station," NASA's Anna Heiney explained in a blog post.
Watch this: SpaceX set to to take its first astronauts into space
In other words, it's a perfect environment for transmitting viruses, so NASA already takes pandemic-level precautions that most of us are just now getting used to as a matter of routine.
The astronauts and their families have actually been in a standard "quarantine bubble" since before the time the United States began to go into lockdown, Behnken told CBS News in mid-March.
During the final quarantine period, which began Wednesday, the astronauts will come in contact only with their immediate families and essential SpaceX and NASA personnel who go through medical screenings.
For much of the next week, Hurley and Behnken will be at home with their families in Houston for what Hurley describes as a "rest period" before heading back to Florida on May 20 to begin the final preparations for launch.
The planned blastoff May 27 will be the first SpaceX mission to carry humans to space and the first crewed space mission starting from US soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The mission has been dubbed Demo-2.
Watch this: NASA and SpaceX usher in new era of humans in space