For nearly a decade since the last space shuttle launch in 2011, U.S. astronauts have been unable to access the International Space Station from the U.S. mainland. The upcoming launch of the manned Dragon spacecraft from Florida is about to change that, and The United States space flight will be “independent” again.
This important historic moment is dependent on the joint efforts of NASA and SpaceX. NASA hasn’t stopped exploring the universe over the years, and SpaceX and NASA have even made headlines many times. So what has happened in space in the last decade?
Chris Hadfield makes manned space cool again
In 2012, an unknown Canadian went to the International Space Station and took over the complex orbital system. His scientific spread and the ability to respond quickly to devastating ammonia leaks have earned him praise from experts for his mission. But in fact, we remember him because of his fascinating scientific tweets.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield.
He chatted in orbit with “Star Trek” Star Trek star William Shatner, showed off water’s quirks with a towel in space, and remade David Bowie’s “Space Monster” to tailor lyrics for his own space journey, the most epic remake to date. Hadfield’s performance puts astronauts back in the public eye and demonstrates the value of Twitter and other social media in space.
Commercialization of manned spaceflight
On September 16, 2014, NASA announced the choice of Boeing and SpaceX to sign a $6.8 billion contract to develop, test and launch manned spacecraft to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station by the end of 2017. The two companies will develop different spacecraft capable of transporting up to seven astronauts to near-Earth orbit.
Boeing’s Starline and SpaceX’s Dragon.
Boeing developed the CST-100 spacecraft, which was later renamed the Interstellar Line, and SpaceX developed the Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX’s manned Dragon spacecraft completed its first test flight in March 2019. Boeing, however, has failed. By the end of 2019, the Interstellar Line spacecraft had problems during a test flight and failed to successfully dock with the International Space Station. SpaceX plans to launch its first commercial manned flight in human history from Florida at 16:33 p.m. EST (4:33 a.m. BST) on May 27.
The reignite of Pluto’s identity battle
In 2015, when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft first flew over Pluto, the debate over “Pluto is a planet” heated up again. Pluto is very far from our sun, and New Horizons’ visit shows us a very distant and strange world.
Pluto removed from the list of planets.
In 2005, the International Astronomical Union removed Pluto from the list of planets because it had found many cold objects the size of Pluto in the solar system, and even some small planets were not counted. A group of astronomers, led by New Horizons lead researcher Alan Stern, are asking astronomers to rethink how to divide the asteroid worlds in the solar system.
SpaceX sends a Tesla sports car to Mars
SpaceX was a very young company when the last U.S. space shuttle was launched, but it quickly grew and gained public trust. It began shipping cargo to the International Space Station, developed rocket technology for automatic landings, and began building larger rockets. If Marx had paid for it, it might even have been sent to Mars in the end.
SpaceX sent a Tesla sports car to Mars.
While the mission to visit Mars has not yet been completed, the Falcon Heavy rocket, launched for the first time in February 2018, did put a Tesla sports car and a dummy named Starman into Earth orbit. SpaceX eventually put the sports car into orbit to Mars.
In the name of science, Cassini was buried on Saturn.
After about 15 years of exploring Saturn, NASA decided to let the Cassini spacecraft deliberately enter the planet. Cassini’s success has been remarkable, with the discovery of water spray not only on Titan over the past 15 years, but also the study of the strange “hexagon” on Saturn.
Cassini spacecraft at the expense of science.
The Cassini mission may seem strange, but NASA has a good reason. The Cassini spacecraft is already under-fueled, and it could hit and pollute an extraterrestrial world that could be life-threatening. In addition, Cassini’s plunge into Saturn could provide us with some information about Saturn’s atmosphere and its rings. Amazingly, nearly three years since Cassini’s fall in September 2017, scientists are still receiving data from cassini.
Women achieve milestones in space
NASA has made its first all-female spacewalk in a decade, appointed the first female commander of the space station and the first woman to spend nearly a year in space. All this suggests that NASA has become more inclusive of space exploration.
Women have reached several milestones in the space industry.
To be sure, NASA has also come under fire. For example, Janet Epps, an African-American woman, was canceled from training, the first female spacewalk was postponed due to the size of her spacesuit, and so on. But the controversy doesn’t hide progress, with NASA not only hiring many young female astronauts, but also promising to make a woman the first to return to the moon by 2024.
NASA plans to return to the moon in 2024
The Trump administration recently asked NASA to complete its goal of returning to the moon by 2024. But before that, NASA has a few milestones to do. NASA needs to develop a new space suit for the moon’s surface, a new spacecraft capable of launching all the way to the moon, and a team of astronauts to take on the dangerous and exciting mission.
NASA still has a lot of preparation to do to get back to the moon.
If NASA succeeds, it would be the first time since 1972 that humans have landed on the moon. If all goes according to plan, some of Apollo’s astronauts will even be able to witness the milestone.
Looking for life on Mars
As Mars’ summer approaches, NASA and other agencies will begin sending spacecraft to the red planet as it approaches Earth. One of the most famous missions is the Perseverance rover, which will continue to explore on the basis of Curiosity’s achievements.
The Perseverance rover is about to go to Mars.
NASA hopes to find signs of ancient life on Mars and collect the most promising samples to store them to bring them back to Earth on a return mission in 10 years. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency and Russia plan to send the rover Rosalind Franklin to Mars by 2022.