NASA and SpaceX will make history by launching a new human spacecraft, Crew Dragon Capsule On May 27, 2020. It will become only the fifth American spacecraft certified by NASA for human spaceflight. But before this happen the spacecraft has to pass a final test by sending a pair of astronauts into orbit and bringing them back safely.
For this final test NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will provide their services. They will take their test flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida by a new astronaut taxi. It is called Demo-2 mission, in this astronauts perform critical scientific work on the space station. “Most of our human certification is being completed with this mission,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said during a press conference.
SpaceX, is a private American aerospace manufacturing and space transportation services company. Elon Musk, starts it in the Year 2002, headquartered in California. It has the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars. Its product include launch vehicles, rocket engines, dragon capsules, and landing platforms.
The last time NASA certified a new spacecraft safe for humans was in 1981. The shuttle program ended in 2011, as the astronauts launched to space last time. For the past decade, all astronauts used Russian rockets for their launch. But in 2012 NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to certify their own crewed vehicle.
NASA required both companies to conduct both non-crewed demo flight and crewed demo flight. SpaceX already completed its non-crewed Demo-1 mission last year.
NASA launches satellites into space worth billions of dollar and apply strict engineering reviews to minimize chances of failure. When NASA launches a satellite it focuses on mission success. “But with crew, it’s about mission success as well as crew safety,” Ed Mango (the former program manager for NASA’s commercial crew program) said.
Safety and Performance Requirements
- Can be controlled manually and remotely even if the spacecraft is fully automated
- Interfacing with its docking ports
- Survive for at least 210 days in space
- In case of emergency, spacecraft could abort a mission and carry its crew back safely.
- The Crew Dragon Spacecraft will be on autopilot for 19-hours in the space
- Execute commands from mission control on Earth when no crew members present inside
The two astronauts may spend up to three and a half months on the ISS (International Space Station). After passing the final review, SpaceX will be ready for its missions carrying NASA astronauts regularly.
“This is a big day for NASA and a big day for SpaceX,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.