The recent success of the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch puts the United States back into space after nearly a decade.
After delaying the initial launch due to weather issues, SpaceX successfully launches the Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday. The capsule will bring NASA astronauts Doug Hurly and Bob Behnken into the International Space Station (ISS).
The exact duration of the stay of the two astronauts remains unknown. However, the initial estimate suggests that they can stay there for up to four months.
The recent launch is a massive effort that took almost a decade to complete. Following their successful dock to the ISS, astronaut Hurley has this to say:
“It’s been a real honor to be a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a United States spaceship docked with the International Space Station.”
The successful docking of the Crew Dragon capsule is also a historic feat. It is one of SpaceX’s main selling points for its spaceships: the automated docking system.
The Crew Dragon capsule is capable of autonomously navigating its way towards the ISS. This is not the first time the space company highlighted this technology. Last year, the capsule successfully docks into the ISS during a test flight.
The entire flight took more than 15 hours to complete. While speeding towards the ISS, the two astronauts manage to close their eyes and sleep. This is an integral part of the journey as they want to study the comfort of sleeping on the Crew Dragon.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 31, 2020
The two astronauts will spend between six and 16 weeks on the ISS. After that, they will board the Crew Dragon once again as they descent back into Earth.
The future of private space flight
While the recent endeavor is a resounding success, it sets the tone for the future of privatized space flight. This particular project serves as an advertisement for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This program aims to send astronauts into space using private space ships, in this case from SpaceX.
The company aims to create an industry of sending tourists into space. While this effort might take years if not decades to achieve, the recent launch is a great starting point.
Apart from these lofty space tourism goals, SpaceX founder Elon has an even loftier goal of sending people to Mars. Before that, Mr. Musk is seeking to reconquer the Moon by sending people to it before the decade turns.
Image courtesy of SpaceX/Unsplash