Nasa’s partnership with SpaceX is entering a critical moment, with NASA’s first astronauts launching from the U.S. mainland since the space shuttle era,media BGR reported. The manned Dragon spacecraft developed by SpaceX is part of NASA’s commercial crew program and will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station on May 27.
It will be a very important day and a huge milestone for SpaceX and NASA, but there is still a big question that remains to be seen: How long will astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley stay in space during SpaceX’s first manned space launch?
As Teslarati reports, NASA is still working on plans and has not yet decided how long the two will spend in the orbiting lab when they arrive. The mission is clearly a big deal for SpaceX, but NASA hopes its astronauts will do some work in space. As the first manned flight of a manned Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX is eager to safely send astronauts into space and then quickly return to Earth, completing NASA certification and allowing the company to go all out to prepare for future launches. That said, it’s not easy to send humans into space, and NASA doesn’t want to waste that journey.
In the final analysis, the first manned launch is still a test. This is a proof that the spacecraft can safely and effectively send scientists to the International Space Station. Nasa will send four astronauts to the space station for longer manned flights during the next manned flight of the Dragon spacecraft. Ideally, NASA wants the two missions to overlap as close as possible.
“It’s a trade-off to allow the spacecraft to quickly return to complete certification and provide additional crew time for maintenance and research on the space station,” Kirk Shireman, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, said at a recent briefing. “From the space station’s point of view, what we want to do is keep them in orbit as much as possible until the Crew-1 spacecraft is ready, bring the Demo-2 spacecraft home, get the certification done, and then launch the Crew-1 spacecraft.” “
Of course, this is premised on the success of this final demonstration mission. NASA will certainly give SpaceX some instructions, and maybe some of the little things it wants to see being processed or changed, but once the spacecraft is certified by NASA, it will officially serve the space agency.