In the spring of 2020, SpaceX intends to send two astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX recently completed tests that showed that in the event of an accident, the Crew Dragon capsule can deliver astronauts to a safe place. The test is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew, a joint program between the space agency and private spacecraft companies that can deliver astronauts to and from the ISS.
New era of US space flights
Since 2011, after completing the Space Shuttle mission, NASA has been buying space on the Soyuz spacecraft to send astronauts to the ISS. However, these places are becoming more expensive: one round-trip seat now costs NASA about 85 million dollars. Therefore, the space agency launched its Commercial Crew program to stimulate the development of new American-made spacecraft. The NASA and SpaceX joint program is designed for just that.
Astronauts Bob Benke and Dag Hurley, who will be the first people to be sent into space aboard a private spacecraft, hope that their flight will usher in a new era of US space travel. Business Insider writes that Boeng is also building a spacecraft under the Commercial Crew program, but SpaceX will still be the first.
Recall that in the latest tests, SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets and intentionally detonated it. This was the last step in the long process of testing the Crew Dragon A capsule, designed to deliver astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
In addition to the obvious technological advances, NASA’s Commercial Crew program benefits the US economy. Private companies are now competing for billions of dollars in government contracts, and SpaceX and Boeing come first.
How is the preparation for the historic flight going?
In total, Benke and Hurley have been working with each other for twenty years, and have been preparing for the spring flight since 2018. They also advised SpaceX in developing the Crew Dragon internal system, as crew safety is a top priority for any space mission. Preparation for the flight includes intensive training before the flight, as well as trial training on the day of launch. Both men told The Atlantic that they were looking forward to being sent to the ISS in a new spaceship. At the moment, they have already been trained to work with the mechanisms of the spacecraft, tried on new spacesuits and met with the head of SpaceX during the test of the Crew Dragon rescue capsule.