Published: Вс, Марта 03, 2019
Sci-tech | By Javier West

SpaceX successfully launches spacecraft designed for astronauts

SpaceX successfully launches spacecraft designed for astronauts

Crew Dragon successfully left the atmosphere and split from the Falcon 9 rocket, and is expected to dock with the ISS on Sunday Morning, where it will undergo testing by the space station's three-member crew.

Though Demo-1 is astronaut-free, Crew Dragon is carrying one lifeless - but lifelike - passenger, a dummy outfitted with a variety of sensors so scientists can measure the forces exerted on the body during the mission.

SpaceX's capsule is now en route to the International Space Station, which flies about 254 miles above Earth at tremendous speeds: about 10 times faster than a bullet.

Looking on from Kennedy's Launch Control were the two NASA astronauts who will strap in as early as July for the second space demo, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. It's also the first American spaceship made for people to be launched into orbit since 2011. The spacecraft will rely on its computers to autonomously fly the spacecraft gently alongside the station and then attach itself to one of the docking ports.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 2:49 a.m. Saturday from pad 39A here, the same launch pad that hoisted Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and numerous space shuttle missions as well.

For SpaceX, which Musk founded in 2002, sending an astronaut into orbit would be a culmination of years of hard work and high-risk investment.

The uncrewed flight, or Demo-1 mission, will provide SpaceX the chance to prove its spacecraft is safe, reliable and ready to carry live astronauts.

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Now NASA said it is on the verge of recapturing some of the national pride that has been a hallmark of its human spaceflight program since the beginning of the Space Age.

Boeing aims to conduct the first test flight of its Starliner capsule in April, with astronauts on board possibly in August.

"We want to make sure we keep our partnership with Russian Federation, which has been very strong for a long period of time", explained Bridenstine before the flight. But over the longer haul, Musk said, he'd like to open Crew Dragon to space tourists as well.

Dragon 2 is a reusable spacecraft designed as a successor to the Dragon space freighter.

"We're only partway through the mission", Musk said.

Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching USA astronauts on US rockets from USA soil.

Bridenstine said he was "100 per cent confident" those flights would happen this year. SpaceX and Boeing originally planned to make their first flights with people within a few years of receiving the contracts but both programs faced technical challenges and funding issues from Congress. "And then re-entry", Musk said at a press conference, held in the Kennedy Space Center, when asked which stages of the Dragon 2 mission he anxious about most.

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