Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, the two astronauts who must fly into space Wednesday aboard a rocket SpaceX, are both former military pilots, who are recruited to Nasa at the same time and married to astronauts.
Both have the traditional look of the men of Nasa: the hair cut in the military, the word short and precise, never seem rushed. Smiling, reasonable, competent, reliable: the trademark of the astronauts.
- Listen to the interview of canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques with Jonathan Trudeau at QUB Radio:
They met in 2000 at the beginning of their training at the space agency, and have since become best friends, told Doug Hurley, 53-year-old.
As a long tradition of astronauts before them, they came to the royal road, to be recruited by the space agency: to be a military test pilot.
Behnken, 49 years old, holder of a doctorate in mechanical engineering at the technological Institute of California, enlisted during his studies and has finished in the mythical school of test pilots of the air force at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Colonel, he had flown aboard 25 different devices, including the fighter F-22.
Doug was also a colonel but as a pilot in the Marine corps, driver specialist of the F-18.
Between 2008 and 2011, they have each traveled twice, separately, to the edge of space shuttles, the previous means of space transportation american. In 2015, Nasa gave them their next mission: the first flight demonstration of inhabited of the capsule Crew Dragon, built by a young company named SpaceX, California — a flight expected around 2017.
“He always has everything planned”
“As old-school test pilots-military, if we had been able to choose a dream job for a day, it would have been to embark in a new device space and lead a mission to test “, said Bob Behnken on may 20, arriving at the Kennedy space center from Houston, Texas, the home of the american astronauts.
It is in Houston that they founded their families, each with an astronaut: Bob is married to Megan McArthur, they have a six year old son, Theodore.
Doug is married to Karen Nyberg, with whom he had Jack, 10 years old.
Both of their wives have each flown in space.
The bond of friendship that unites them is an obvious asset to a mission as risky, where they may need to take control of the device, which is otherwise automatic.
Doug Hurley is the most meticulous, or even manic of the two, according to Behnken. “If we need unnecessary information, Doug has “, he ironisé in a video from Nasa.
Hurley admits himself to be the specialist procedures ” obscure “.
For Behnken, his friend said of him that he anticipates everything, ” he always planned everything “. But his face is transparent: “He knows not to bluff “.
On Monday, the head of Nasa, has checked a final time by texting with its two astronauts: “You are sure? ”
“They answered both that they were ready to launch,” said Jim Bridenstine, insisting: “They are ready “.
Patiently, Bob and Doug are trained for five years for this moment.