Meet the astronauts: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley set to make history

The astronauts are veteran spacefliers married to veteran spacefliers and fathers of young sons.


The two astronauts who will test-drive private-spaceflight company SpaceX's brand new rocketship and return human orbital launches to the U.S. are classmates and friends.

They're also veteran spacefliers, married to veteran spacefliers and fathers of young sons.

Retired Marine Col. Doug Hurley will be in charge of launch and landing, a fitting assignment for the pilot of NASA's last space shuttle mission. Air Force Col. Bob Behnken will oversee rendezvous at the International Space Station.

They'll end a nine-year launch drought for NASA when they blast off aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida. Liftoff is set for Wednesday.

Behnken was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000 and is a veteran of two space shuttle flights.

A native of Missouri, Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, logging more than 708 hours in space, and more than 37 hours during six spacewalks.

Hurley, who grew up in Apalachin, New York, was also selected as an astronaut in 2000. A veteran of two spaceflights, he was the pilot on STS‐127 and STS‐135. Hurley holds a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Tulane University. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Hurley and Behnken are married to fellow members of their 2000 astronaut class at NASA: newly retired Karen Nyberg and Megan McArthur. Each couple has one child, boys 10 and 6 years old.

Being married to an astronaut, both men acknowledged, has made it easier in the unexpectedly long run-up to their SpaceX flight. Their wives and sons joined them in quasi-quarantine back home in Houston when the coronavirus hit, so they’re able to travel to Kennedy for the customary countdown farewells. The pandemic slashed the rest of their guest lists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report