Doug Hurley

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Who is Doug Hurley? Douglas Gerald Hurley (born October 21, 1966) is an American engineer, former Marine Corps pilot and current NASA astronaut. He piloted Space Shuttle missions STS-127 (July 2009) and STS-135 (July 2011), the last flight of the Space Shuttle program.

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It’s the Bob and Doug Show.

On Wednesday, weather permitting, two NASA astronauts, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, will sit atop a SpaceX rocket that flies into orbit. But NASA and SpaceX officials call the pilots of this historic mission more often than not “Bob and Doug.”

“I wanted to make sure that everyone at SpaceX knew Bob and Doug and knew it as astronauts, as test pilots – badass – but also as fathers and husbands,” Gwynne Shotwell, president of the company that built the Crew Dragon spacecraft that put the men in orbit, said at a news conference this month. “I also wanted to add some humanity to this very profound technical effort.”

The men’s journey to the space station is the first from the United States since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011, and Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley, friends and colleagues for two decades, have traveled remarkably similar paths so far.

“One of the things that’s very helpful to us as a crew is the long relationship doug and I have had,”” Behnken said in interviews with reporters this month. “We’re on the verge of our experience – whether it’s flying in the T-38 or performing in a SpaceX simulation or approaching and docking to the international space station – where, in addition to finishing each other’s sentences, you can also know, almost by body language, what the person’s opinion is or what he’s going to do, what his next action will be.”

The understanding and good humor between the astronauts was evident in a video made by NASA. Mr Behnken said he was looking forward to crashing at the end of their mission before adding with a grin: “I might expect a little vomiting in that endgame. If we get that chance to do that together in the water, that’s kind of weird to say, but I’m looking for those kind of festive events. “

Mr Hurley gave a more serious answer and said he enjoyed working with a close friend.

“And yes,” he said, “the celebratory vomiting at the end of the mission will be excellent.”
Image Photographers have prepared external cameras for the launch of Crew Dragon on Tuesday.
Photographers have prepared external cameras for the launch of Crew Dragon on Tuesday. Credit… Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Both are former military pilots who have reached the rank of colonel – Mr Behnken of the US Air Force, Mr Hurley of the Marines – before deciding that they wanted to go even higher. Both joined NASA in 2000 – two of the 17 astronauts selected by the space agency that year.

They have each flown to space twice during space shuttle missions, although never on the same mission. Mr Hurley flew on the last space shuttle mission in 2011.

They both married astronauts from their class. Mr. Behnken’s wife is Megan McArthur, an oceanographer who was part of the shuttle mission who made a final visit in 2009 to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. Mr Hurley is married to Karen Nyberg, who spent nearly six months on the international space station ISS in 2013 and retired from NASA at the end of March.

Mr Behnken and Mrs McArthur’s son, Theodore, is 6. Mr Hurley and Mrs Nyberg’s son, Jack, are 10.

“I think it’s a pretty cool looking vehicle and my 10-year-old son definitely thinks it’s a cool vehicle with a cool name, Dragon,”” Hurley said. “So I stuck the thumbs up from him and in the end that’s all that matters.”

The 53-year-old Hurley grew up in Apalachin, N.Y., outside Binghamton. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tulane University.

Mr. Behnken, 49, was born in Saint Ann, Mo., and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in physics and mechanical engineering. He then completed his master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

The road to the launch pad has been longer than expected and planned. After a successful unmanned test flight from a Crew Dragon to the space station last year, it seemed that Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley would soon follow their mission.

But then the spacecraft’s parachutes – essential to the astronauts’ safe return – failed in some tests. Even more troubling was that the Crew Dragon, which had made the successful journey to space, exploded on a test bench while being fed for a test fire from its thrusters. No one was on board and no one was injured, but a video of the explosion leaked online.

Last October, the astronauts said they still had confidence in the spacecraft.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” Hurley said. “You get questions from your family. What happened? Do you know what happened? That kind of thing. But the other part, which you have to keep in mind, is that this is test, evaluation development and that it is part of the process. “
Image
Mr. Hurley, right, with Mr. Behnken and Elon Musk during a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center in 2019.Credit… John Raoux / Associated Press

Mr Behnken said he and Mr Hurley were quickly and fully aware of the incident and subsequent investigation, as well as changes to the draft.

“Giving us insight and sharing that understanding as we move forward was part of what made us comfortable for this team in the future,” Mr Behnken said.

NASA recently made the decision to extend the Bob and Doug Show a little longer than the originally scheduled two weeks. The space station is currently in a shortage of personnel, so Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley will stay longer to operate.

For space missions, usually planned in detail, this trip is unusually open. They are likely to spend at least a month in orbit and the stay can take up to four months. Mr. Behnken spent time in the huge pool NASA uses to practice spacewalks, and Mr Hurley has taken refresher lessons on the operation of the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm.

Other astronauts who could have been in this spotlight, including Nicole Mann – one of two NASA astronauts assigned to a future flight on another spacecraft, Boeing’s Starliner – do not shy away from Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley.

“It feels a little like one of your closest family members has a great lifelong achievement,”” she said, “and really, that’s it.”