NASA-SpaceX ends a nine-year launch drought in the US by successfully launching two astronauts today – Technology News, Firstpost


It's a Go!

After a first failed attempt, it seems that the second time is a charm for the joint human space mission SpaceX-NASA. Crew Dragon was launched on top of the Falcon 9 rocket and this is a test flight called Demonstration 2 or Demo 2.

After a nine-year drought, since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has finally launched its own American ground astronauts with the help of its public-private partnership with SpaceX.


The SpaceX Falcon 9 is launched from the Kenndy Space Center 39A Launch Complex, Image Credit: NASA / Youtube


The NASA-SpaceX joint human space flight was scheduled for takeoff on Thursday, May 28, 2:00 am IST (Wednesday, May 27 at 4:32 pm EDT) of the 39nd Launch Complex at Kenndy Space Center, Florida, which was also the launch site for the previous Apollo and Space Shuttle missions and was leased by SpaceX . Due to bad weather, the launch had to be rescheduled on Sunday, May 31, at 12:52 pm, Brasília time (May 30 at 3:22 pm, Brasília time).

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley they are at the International Space Station and automatically dock around 7 pm (Brasília time), 19 hours after takeoff.

There were many doubts as to whether the launch would happen today, as the weather looks quite similar to Thursday – cloudy with rain and chances of lightning. However, 45 minutes before launch, the mission director gave the team clearance for launch and 10 minutes later the propellant was being loaded onto the two-stage rocket.


President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence are also present at the launch as if they were for the wet rehearsal as well. reports that Trump told reporters & # 39; that he felt an obligation as president to watch the historic takeoff & # 39 ;.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX was surprisingly absent. Thursday, Musk was seen talking to the astronauts after they dressed in the crew's quarters, he was also seen standing with Pence and Bridenstine at the back exit, when the astronauts were leaving the building. He still has some interviews with NASA chief Jim Bridenstine. However, this time Musk was replaced by ex-astronaut and current director of the Kennedy Space Center, Bob Cabana and Jim Morhard, deputy administrator of NASA.

Post-launch sequence

Approximately 2.5 minutes after takeoff, the first stage reinforcement will detach itself from the rocket and return to Earth. It will land on the SpaceX drone ship called "Of course I still love you", which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. After that, the second stage will also be detached from the Crew Dragon capsule.

The dragon will orbit the Earth and carry out a series of what is known as "phase-burning", that is, it will reignite its engines to propel it to the next level in order to reach the ISS, which is traveling at a speed of 7.66 km / s.

The Dragon must automatically dock with the ISS after 19 hours of altitude elevation to match that of the ISS. Astronauts will have a kind of welcoming ceremony waiting for them.

Hurley and Behnken will remain on the ISS for one to four months, carrying out scientific experiments and helping to maintain the station.

When NASA considers it a good time to return, astronauts will begin their journey home. They will attach and detach from the ISS.

Before entering the Earth's atmosphere, Crew Dragon will lose its trunk. This, like the second stage, will not return to Earth.

The dragon's reentry will look a little scary, like a fireball, but the heat shields will ensure that no damage occurs to the astronauts.

Four Mark 3 parachutes will be deployed that will slow the vehicle's entry and Dragon will dive into the Atlantic Ocean. The astronauts will be fished out of the water along with the Dragon capsule, which will be inspected at the Cape Canaveral, Florida facility.


Hurley, 53 and Behnken, 49 have extensive experience in space and were involved in NASA's space shuttle flights.

Behnken will be the joint operations commander on this mission and was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000. He completed two space flights – STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010 and performed three spacewalks during each mission.

Hurley was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and will be the commander of the Demo-2 spacecraft. He completed two space flights – STS-127 in July 2009 and STS-135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011. He was the pilot and the main robotics operator for the two missions.

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on the launch pad before entering the Crew Dragon pod. Image credit: NASA / Youtube

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on the launch pad before entering the Crew Dragon pod. Image credit: NASA / Youtube

NASA awarded two commercial crew program contracts in 2014, NASA and Boeing to develop a spacecraft capable of transporting people into space by 2017 – Boeing received $ 4.2 billion for its Starliner capsule and SpaceX $ 2, 6 billion for Crew Dragon. The Demo-2 mission is almost three years late for this launch.

Crew Dragon is capable of carrying up to seven passengers to and from Earth orbit and beyond, but will only carry four passengers during NASA human space flight launches. The capsule is about three meters in diameter and eight meters high and can carry 6,000 kg. Before being modified to transport human beings, SpaceX was using the Dragon as a cargo carrier for ISS refueling missions.

Like the rocket and crew capsule, even the astronaut suits were designed and produced in-house and are tailor-made to fit any astronaut who will be traveling on the Crew Dragon. The suits include a 3D printed helmet and gloves compatible with touchscreen and are an integral part of the mission. It provides oxygen for astronauts to breathe and also helps them communicate with the ground crew.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 is a two-stage launch vehicle in partially reusable orbit. Its first stage is able to re-enter the atmosphere and land vertically after separating from the second stage, which is why it is partially reusable. SpaceX successfully landed its first stage during its 20th flight in December 2015. The second stage of the rocket has a single engine that can deliver its payload for any required orbit. The engine can be restarted several times to provide several payloads in different orbits. A two-stage orbit or two-stage rocket launch vehicle is a spacecraft in which two distinct stages provide propulsion consecutively to reach orbital speed.

Demo-2 must be the final test of SpaceX's human space flight system before it can be certified by NASA for operational crew missions to and from the International Space Station. This mission will also lay the groundwork for all of your future missions on the Moon, Mars and beyond. This test flight will serve as a complete demonstration of the SpaceX crew transport system.

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