US space company SpaceX will on Wednesday try to make its first manned flight to the International Space Station.
A new space paper opens: SpaceX sends two NASA astronauts to space on Wednesday, May 26. A technical achievement held by a handful of states and which the United States itself had been deprived of for nine years.
If the bad weather disappears at 04:33 (08:33 GMT) on the number 39A launch pad of the Kennedy Space Center, from which Neil Armstrong and his Apollo teammates take a SpaceX rocket with the new Crew Dragon capsule at its peak , is accelerating towards the International Space Station (ISS).
BobBehnkenet Doug Hurley, the two men selected by NASA for this demonstration mission, has been quarantined for two weeks. Despite the containment, the flight continued.
This year’s show tonight at. 22.33 on NASA TV: the first manned launch of @SpaceXand return of manned flights from Cape Canaveral! As a bonus, you will see the ISS pass in the sky around 11:10 p.m. Rehearsal for my 2021 flight? 😉 pic.twitter.com/7QGQj8eIKe
– Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) May 27, 2020
SpaceExploration Technologies Corp., founded in 2002 by a Mars-owned entrepreneur and determined to break the rules of the aviation industry, Elon Musk, has gradually gained confidence in the largest space agency on the planet.
In 2012, it became the first private company to attach a cargo capsule to ISS, which it has delivered regularly. Two years later, NASA ordered him to follow up: send his astronauts there, beginning in 2017, by customizing the Dragon capsule. “SpaceX wouldn’t be there without NASA,” Elon Musk said last year, after a successful general rehearsal, without people, of the trip to ISS.
Space Agency has paid more than $ 3 billion for SpaceX to design, build, test and use its reusable capsule for six future space trips. The development experienced delays, explosions, parachute problems, but SpaceX defeated the giant Boeing, also paid to manufacture a capsule (Starliner), still not ready.
The investment, which was decided for freight under the Bush presidency and for the astronauts of Barack Obama, is considered fruitful compared to the tens of billions in cost of the previous systems developed by NASA.
“Some have said that it is impractical or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree,” said Barack Obama in 2010, right here. The hostility to Congress and to NASA, ahead of the startup claims, was enormous.
Ten years later, another president, Donald Trump, will join the Kennedy Center in the potential engagement. The Republican is trying to confirm US dominance of space, militarily but also by ordering a return to the moon in 2024.
If NASA could transfer the “low path” to the private sector, it would free up dollars for its more remote missions.
“We envision a future where the low ground is completely privatized, where NASA is just a client among others,” said JimBridenstine, the agency’s administrator. Otherwise “we will never come to the moon and to Mars”.
There has been a lot of rain in Florida in recent days, and Cape Canaveral forecasters said Tuesday that the weather risk was 40% worse on Wednesday. If needed, the flight will be delayed until Saturday.
A smoother flight
Crew Dragon is a capsule like Apollo, but version XXIe century. Touch screens have replaced buttons and joysticks. The interior is dominated by white, the more subtle lighting.
Nothing to do with the huge space shuttle, huge winged birds that served from 1981 to 2011.
“We expect a smoother but noisier flight,” said BobBehken, who likes his teammate having traveled twice in the “shuttles”.
Unlike the shuttles, of which one exploded in 1986 after takeoff (Challenger), Dragon can take himself out in an emergency if the rocket has a problem.
The Crew Dragon will overtake the station 400 miles above sea level on Thursday and will likely remain moored there until August.
If it fulfills its mission and is certified safe, Americans will no longer be dependent on the Russians to gain access to space: Since 2011, Soyuz was the only space taxi available. Routes from Florida will be regular, with four astronauts on board.
A Japanese is on the next trip. A European should take place in the next, perhaps French, Thomas Pesquet, who is currently training in Houston to return to ISS 2021.