SpaceX Successfully Completed The SpaceX Crew Dragon Mission: On May 30th, two NASA astronauts climbed inside a space capsule and launched on top of a rocket. NASA and SpaceX have launched two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, made history as it becomes the first private company to launch people into orbit.
These are the first two American astronauts to launch into orbit from American soil in nearly a decade. The vehicle they’re traveling commercially made by SpaceX and not NASA. Its a culmination of NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme. And for the first time, a private company has launched people into orbit. If the rest of this goes well, it could kickstart a very different era of human space flight.
SpaceX Makes History
After dozens of rocket launches, SpaceX finally managed to send the most valuable cargo into space. The two astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley blasted off a mission that could revolutionize the final frontier. Elon Musk launched the two astronauts in space aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday (30/05/2020). SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket took off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. This is what NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in his statement:
“Were gonna have more access to space at a better cost than any point in human history.”
Nearly a decade ago, NASA kicked off a space race with the Government awarding $3.1 billion to SpaceX and $4.8 billion to Boeing. This investment would wind up saving NASA nearly $20 to $30 billion.
Crew Dragon Spacecraft
SpaceX Successfully Completed The SpaceX Crew Dragon Mission The Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s new crew capsule. It’s explicitly designed to launch on top of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and ferry people to and from Earth’s lower orbit. It is a modification of the company’s Dragon Cargo Capsule, which has taken supplies to the ISS for the last decade.
However, the Crew Dragon is fitted with new bells and whistles, life support systems, sleek chairs, and shiny touchscreen displays. SpaceX has also designed custom pressure suits to protect the astronauts from Earth’s harsh environment.
Finally, the Dragon supports a sophisticated docking system that’s entirely automatic. Using a series of sensors and cameras, the vehicle can approach the ISS all on its own and latch onto a docking port.
Will America Finally Shift From The Soyuz Capsule?
The last time America launched from the U.S. was in 2011 when Space Shuttle Atlantis took off from Florida with a crew of 4. Since that day, NASA has relied on Russia to get astronauts to and from the ISS. However, it hasn’t been the best situation as Russia charges the U.S. around $80M a seat for a ride on their Soyuz Capsule.
And if the Soyuz were to go out of commission, America doesn’t have anything to fall back on. Although the Commercial Crew Program frees NASA from its reliance on Russia, it’s also a new model for spacecraft development. The idea is to have the private sector make the spacecraft rather than the Government overseeing the production of a new craft.
The Program was intended to light a fire under the commercial space flight industry. NASA is a partial investor in the Crew Dragon capsule. And now that it’s complete, SpaceX can use the capsule to create a new space tourism business. The other goal, in true capitalist fashion, was to spark competition and lower costs for NASA.
It will be interesting to see if this ProgramProgram can actually have America moving on from using the Russian Soyuz Capsule. If the mission does go as planned, it certainly can open new doors for Elon Musk and the U.S.