May 27, SpaceX plans to launch a Crew Dragon ship with astronauts aboard to the International Space Station. This will be the first in nine years launch of people into orbit from the United States.
The goal of the upcoming Crew Dragon mission is to return the orbital launches to the United States, which ceased after the completion of the Space Shuttle reusable spacecraft program. Since then, NASA has been forced to pay Russia to send people into space on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
If the launch is successful, the United States will be able to enter a new era in the history of commercial space exploration.
Some facts from the past
After completion of the program for the use of reusable American space shuttle spacecraft, manned flights from the United States to space also ceased. Then the American space agency was forced to pay Russia for space for American astronauts on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
In 2010, NASA began looking for private contractors to deliver the crew to the ISS under the CCDev program. Then SpaceX began developing the ship Crew Dragon. The design was publicly released in May 2014, and in October of that year, the ship was selected along with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner to deliver the crew to the ISS. After considering the proposals, NASA chose the cheapest options and provided SpaceX $ 2.6 billion for the further development of the ship.
The first launch of Crew Dragon was made in March 2019, then the ship successfully reached the ISS in unmanned mode and returned to Earth.
At the end of 2019, the head of SpaceX, Elon Musk, announced that in 2020 the first manned flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS will take place. It was noted that the ship is fully technically ready for flight. And already in mid-May of this year, Crew Dragon was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA.
The Flight Readiness Review has concluded! NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff.— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) May 22, 2020
Tune in to NASA TV for the following:
2:15pm ET: Virtual Q&A with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug
2:45pm ET: Post-Review News Conference
????: https://t.co/YeWrpz41EN pic.twitter.com/Pi40JDxN6t
Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon are vertical on the launch pad pic.twitter.com/2nw9h0jxde— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 21, 2020
The upcoming launch
The first manned launch of the Crew Dragon ship is scheduled for May 27 at 16:33 US East Coast time (May 28 00:33 Kyiv). The reserve dates for the start are May 30 and 31.
The crew will include astronauts Robert Benken and Douglas Hurley, who have already flown into space before. Forbes USA reported that for several weeks both astronauts were quarantined and adhered to strict social distance rules to prevent coronavirus from entering the ISS.
“People have been waiting for the launch for years, and so it happened that preparations for it have already been completed. NASA and SpaceX sought to launch, despite the pandemic,” the report said.
After about 12 minutes after launch, Crew Dragon should go into orbit. Then it will continue on its own to the ISS. Separated from the ship, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will return to Earth. If the launch takes place according to plan, then on May 28 at 13:55 Eastern Time (21:55 Moscow time), the astronauts will go to the ISS. There they will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner. Later, Crew Dragon is due to return to Earth. It is expected that Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japanese Soichi Noguchi will return to Earth inside the ship.
If something goes wrong during the launch, the Crew Dragon crew will launch an emergency compartment from the rocket. In this case, the parachute ship should land in one of several zones in the Atlantic Ocean.
The US Space Agency urged people not to come to Florida personally in connection with the pandemic. At the same time, residents of European countries will have the opportunity to see the flight of the ship. It is planned that it will fly past the moon in the night sky about 20-30 minutes after launch and will look like a moving point of light.
The live broadcast of the launch will be demonstrated on NASA and the SpaceX website.
If the upcoming launch is successful, the United States will be able to usher in a new era in the history of commercial space exploration. The thing is that the contract between SpaceX and NASA provides for the implementation of several more missions to deliver people to space. And given that up to seven people can fit in Crew Dragon, SpaceX plans to sell space to space tourists.