Has NASA ever forged space missions

SpaceX: This is how the planning for the launch of the ISS went

The first all-American astronaut mission since 2011 was a success on May 30th. The flight is carried out by a rocket with a SpaceX space capsule. A great triumph for Elon Musk. We look back at how the planning went up to the historic moment.

The Crew Dragon.

Photo: SpaceX

On May 30, 2020, the private space company breaks SpaceX in Florida to the International Space Station ISS on. A space premiere that has not happened in almost ten years. On board are two astronauts from the US space agency Nasa: Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. The manned crew was actually supposed to take off into space on May 27, but the weather thwarted the mission on that day. The first start was canceled at short notice for safety reasons.

After two minutes and 56 seconds, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made space history. That's how long it took her spaceship to advance to a height of 100 kilometers. The limit of space was overcome in just under three minutes. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, worked towards this moment for 18 years.

Nasa only customer: SpaceX flies to the ISS

NASA is only a customer of this manned space flight. SpaceX is responsible for the launch and the mission. The US space agency has "outsourced" the flight. A "Falcon 9" missile will send a "Crew Dragon" capsule into orbit. The developments are based on that of Elon Musk founded company SpaceX. So far, freight has been successfully transported to the ISS. This time two astronauts should also arrive from Cape Canaveral.

Cape Canaveral is a spaceport in Florida. During the Second World War, this area was used as an airfield by the Air Force. The first rocket launches took place in the 1950s. Since the flight of Apollo 8 in 1968, all US manned rockets have been launched from NASA's northwest spaceport: the Kennedy Space Center.

A US space shuttle last took off in July 2011. Since then, the USA has been dependent on the Russians and pays huge sums per seat if they want to transport astronauts into space to the International Space Station ISS. Since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, the US has been dependent on the Russian Soyuz space capsules, which alone ensure that the International Space Station is always manned.

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SpaceX leads USA into the new space era

Jim Bridenstine, NASA boss, announced Independence Day. SpaceX, Elon Musk's US space company, was awarded the contract. It is the first manned space flight by a private company - a historic day. But this is not celebrated in a big way, because NASA warns potential visitors to watch the rocket launch live in Cape Canaveral in Florida. Everything Corona-compliant, if you will. Donald Trump will not miss the spectacle and will be there.

"We invite people to watch the launch with us, but please from home," said NASA in a press conference.

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NASA competition: Triumph for Musk

For the first time, humans will fly into space from the United States again. For Musk, the contract is a triumph. His space company was founded in 2002. In the NASA competition, SpaceX was able to clearly overtake Boeing. Both SpaceX with its Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing with its CST-100 Starliner capsule provided alternatives for the Russian transports to the International Space Station. NASA ultimately chose Musk and SpaceX and the Falcon 9 rocket. One reason may also have been the failed flight of the unmanned Boeing capsule in December 2019. Nasa then demanded a test flight from the company, which should prove the reliability of the capsule. However, regardless of the premiere flight, both capsules should be used by NASA. SpaceX and Boeing can take turns with the Russians on the flights to the ISS.

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Musk's space capsule flew successfully to the ISS in March 2019, but only with a doll. The return flight was also possible without any problems. At the beginning of 2002, a test of the emergency rescue system was also successful. This first manned flight on May 27th is part of the NASA's “Commercial Crew” program. The mission is considered a demo mission. How long it will last has not yet been determined.


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Dragon capsule takes off in late May

At the end of May, the space mission starts from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is already clear who will be in the Dragon capsule: the two NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. In the so-called Demo 2 mission, they fly to the International Space Station ISS. Both astronauts were already in space. Bob Behnken has been on board twice on space shuttle flights. Hurley was part of the crew of two Space Shuttle flights, including the last US flight in July 2011.

According to their own statements, the two astronauts are very satisfied with the commitment of the billionaire Musk.

On more than one occasion, he's looked Bob and me straight in the eye and said, “Hey, if there's anything that bothers you or you notice, please tell me and we'll fix it,” says Hurley .

Elon Musk also responded with pride and ambition on Twitter. In response to a message about SpaceX's previous milestones, Musk wrote:

“Good progress, but 18 years to get our first humans started is a long time. Technology has to advance faster, otherwise there won't be a city on the red planet during our lifetime, ”said the technology entrepreneur.

Musk has long dreamed of colonizing Mars.

After taking off from the Cape Canaveral spaceport, it will take 24 hours before the Crew Dragon can dock with the ISS. You can see the demo version of the Crew Dragon in this video:

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SpaceX successfully completes the Falcon 9 static fire test

The test phases for Crew Dragon's first operational mission appear to be going well. SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas announced that it has successfully completed a static fire test of the first stage Falcon 9 that will launch the mission. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have started preparing for their journey.

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Astronauts stay in space for at least a month

The two astronauts are expected to stay in space for between one and four months. At the end of the mission there should be a water landing on the Atlantic. NASA boss Jim Bridenstine emphasizes that it is extremely important for the USA to have its own "access" to the ISS again. The potential of the $ 100 billion building should be better used again.

The division of space is in full swing and there are more actors than ever before. The motivation to achieve or consolidate prestige and status worldwide through ambitious space programs still plays a role for some nations. China and India, for example, want to show that they can be expected in another race to the moon. However, the actual competition is now taking place between state and private space players. They compete for orders and customers, space has become big business.

The cooperation between NASA and SpaceX is to be expanded in the meantime. The Crew Dragon capsule should also qualify for further missions into space through regular missions.

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A contribution by:

  • Sarah Janczura

    Sarah Janczura is content manager and responsible editor for ingenieur.de. After an internship with a focus on social media, she worked as an online editor in a digital agency. She writes about technology, research and career topics.