May 27 will be a watershed moment for the United States and NASA,media outlet Neowin reported. For the first time in nine years, a team of astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, will take a manned dragon spacecraft from the U.S. mainland to the International Space Station, the first time in nine years that the shuttle program has stopped.
SpaceX, a private company founded and led by Elon Musk, will also be a key point. The company’s manned Dragon spacecraft has been a major competitor to NASA’s commercial crew program. What are the primary themes of the program? Outsource research and development of the next generation of capsules to private companies. This would save taxpayers money and eliminate the cost of transporting astronauts from Kazakhstan to the Russian Soyuz capsule. In addition to SpaceX, Boeing is also developing spacecraft for NASA’s commercial crew program. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner suffered its first test flight.
Impressively, the manned Dragon spacecraft will be the third spacecraft in history to send astronauts to the International Space Station. The other two are the obsolete space shuttle and the venerable Soyuz spacecraft. Compared to the Soyuz, which can hold only three astronauts, the manned Dragon spacecraft can hold up to seven astronauts. This can slash costs.
On Wednesday, a manned test flight code-named Demo-2 will test whether the manned Dragon spacecraft is suitable for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. To be clear, the manned Dragon spacecraft will be on the space station as early as 2019, but it was an unmanned test flight. If the Demo-2 is successful, the manned Dragon spacecraft could enter service as early as September.
Preparations for the Demo-2 are already under way, and began this week, with Behnken and Hurley arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After settling in, the astronauts performed a full launch day drill in their spacesuits after the Falcon 9 rocket successfully completed a static ignition test the day before.
Earlier Tuesday, SpaceX and NASA issued instructions for the launch after the spacecraft successfully passed its launch readiness review. With all the initial tests completed, the Demo-2 spacecraft is now only “fully loaded”.
The manned Dragon spacecraft will be launched from the 39A launch site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an immortal site. It is also where Saturn 5 sent humans to the moon and the first and last space shuttle mission.
SpaceX’s manned Dragon spacecraft is expected to fly at 04:33 EST in the event of any weather or unforeseen conditions. In exceptional circumstances, SpaceX also has two backup launch windows, may 30 and May 31.
Here’s a brief introduction to SpaceX’s Benji Reed about the flight. In short, the manned Dragon spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station on May 28 to complete the first part of the Demo-2, while the Falcon 9 will complete its journey back to Earth via a vertical landing.
The company has uploaded a short video showing a simulated docking of a manned Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. It will complete the first mission to transport astronauts from the Continental United States to the space station for the first time in nine years since the shuttle program was suspended in 2011.