As NASA gives the go-ahead to SpaceX’s mission for sending two astronauts in space, the launch, set on May 27, will make SpaceX the first privately owned company to send astronauts in space.
After the discontinuation of their space program in 2011, for nine years, NASA has been relying on Russia to send their astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station). This year NASA allocated around $3.1 billion worth contracts to SpaceX, on account of which SpaceX has been working on sending crewed flights of Dragon 2 in space. The launch will take place at the Kennedy Space Center, Launch Pad 39A on May 27, 2:03 am IST, As Decided by the meetings between the officials of US space agency and SpaceX this week. The Space crew will include two astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.
Meanwhile, the world is still in a battle with the Corona Virus, with all the major hubs of the world closed down and economies going downhill. Because of the pandemic, both Robert and Douglas have been in Quarantine since May 13. Both of them have been tested twice for the virus. Their standard procedure isolation began way before May 13, making them the two astronauts to stay longest in quarantine. When asked about going to space in this time of crisis, Behnken answered, “where there is a will there is away.” For the past five years, Behnken and Hurley have been training on the Crew Dragon Variant of the Dragon 2. The second generation of spacecraft developed by SpaceX unveiled back in 2014. This variant can carry up to 7 astronauts to space. SpaceX has already conducted a crewless flight of the Dragon 2 in March 2019.
On July 21, 2011, NASA’s space shuttle program ended with the landing of its last space shuttle Atlantis. The program sent over 300 astronauts to space in around 130 missions for 30 years before it was discontinued. After that, for the past nine years, US has been buying transport on the Russian Suez rockets to send astronauts to space. With the success of the SpaceX launch mission, the independence of US space missions will return. However, NASA still has plans to use Russian space crafts; consequently, the US-Russian partnership is not going to be ending anytime soon.
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Elon Musk established SpaceX with the vision of sending tourists to space, that vision may be one step closer to realization with this launch. After the success of this launch, the commercial flights are scheduled for the next year, with tickets going on sale in the first half of it. The tickets are expected to be in the range of 20 to 50 million dollars.
With the world coming back to its routine after countries start to loosen their lockdown laws, we might be able to see new chapters in terms of space discoveries. With the success of SpaceX’s mission for the ISS, there is a chance that commercial flights may also begin soon, this clears the way for the idea of a round the moon trip presented by SpaceX.
Who wouldn’t love a trip to the moon, right?