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Local NASA employees discuss importance of upcoming rocket launch

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Posted at 7:14 AM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 10:14:59-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — For years the U.S. Has relied on Russia to fly astronauts up to the International Space Station. But this weekend, our astronauts will instead be making the trip from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“You have to keep active to be competitive, and we should be competitive," said Ed Saltzman, who worked for NASA for 50 years as an aerodynamics analyst.

Saltzman says he’s happy to see that the U.S. will soon launch American astronauts into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

“We should aim to be the best, yes, in aeronautics as well as space," he said.

The launch of the rocket, named Crew Dragon, was intended to happen Wednesday, but bad weather delayed it to Saturday. Onboard Crew Dragon will be astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who will be taken to the ISS. Ed’s son, John Saltzman, currently works for NASA, and says Behnken has a Kern County connection.

“Bob Benken, he actually went to flight test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base," he said.

In fact, NASA says both astronauts have trained in Kern County. Although both work for NASA, billionaire Elon Musk’s private company SpaceX built the rocket. NASA simply purchased the right for their astronauts to be on board, which John says overall, saves them a lot of money.

“NASA can use the money saved by taking commercial transport and apply that toward their core mission into deep space," he said.

NASA has plans of again sending humans to the moon by 2024, and then later to Mars. The launch on Saturday is scheduled to happen at 12:22 P.M.