SpaceX and NASA, the US space exploration technology company, are once again preparing to make history by putting two astronauts into Earth orbit,media reported. NASA and space shuttle fans were disappointed Wednesday when the first attempt at a manned space flight was canceled due to weather. They have been waiting for this milestone for nearly a decade to resume manned space flights in the United States.
Figure 1: NASA astronauts Bob Benken (left) and Doug Hurley prepare to board the SpaceX manned Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station
SpaceX’s next launch attempt is scheduled for Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EST (3:22 a.m. Beijing time Sunday). But whether the rocket will actually lift off is likely to depend on the weather again. As of Friday morning local time, the U.S. military’s 45th Air Corps, which oversees all East Coast rocket launches, predicted that The probability of Saturday’s launch was about 50 percent. If Saturday fails to test, the third launch window will be around 3 p.m. EST on May 31 (3 a.m. Beijing time Monday), when the probability of a successful launch is slightly higher, about 60 percent chance.
NASA has said SpaceX has asked ForThade, June 2, as an alternative date for the extra launch if the weather forces two weekend launch attempts to be abandoned.
It’s hurricane season in central Florida, which means launch officials are dealing with extremely volatile weather conditions. After several thunderstorm and tornado warnings on Wednesday, the sky began to clear around the rocket’s lift-off time. But in the end, thick clouds and the risk of lightning were too high, and with only a few minutes left in the countdown, officials eventually ordered a halt to the launch. They even suggested on Wednesday that the rocket might have taken off if the launch took place 10 or 20 minutes later.
But that would be impossible for the manned mission, as astronauts will travel to space to dock with the International Space Station. The International Space Station orbits about 400 kilometers above Earth at speeds of more than 27,000 kilometers per hour. This means that the spacecraft will need to maintain an extremely precise launch schedule. Between now and Saturday afternoon, NASA and SpaceX’s plans are likely to change at any time, depending on the weather.
It also takes quite a bit of luck. The 45th Air Union must monitor the launch pad and large areas of the Atlantic Ocean. If the rocket launch fails, SpaceX’s manned Dragon spacecraft will need to use an emergency abort system to get astronauts to safety, where they will land in the ocean. That means officials must make sure the landings don’t become more dangerous by strong storms or large waves, so they scan large areas of the ocean until near the Irish coast. The team also used a variety of instruments, including radar and weather balloons, to ensure the rocket flew smoothly in the upper atmosphere.
Another problem facing central Florida is to control crowds that flock to the neighborhood to watch the launch during the new corona outbreak. Florida’s beaches opened earlier this month, and during SpaceX’s first launch attempt On Wednesday, local news media reported that spectators were crowded with spectators despite a series of thunderstorms sweeping the area.
The Kennedy Space Center visitor complex officially reopened Thursday and did not sell any tickets for Wednesday’s launch. The center’s website says the visitor center will only welcome a limited number of people to watch the launch and will require all guests to wear masks and take temperature tests. Tickets for SpaceX’s launch attempt on Saturday were quickly sold out.
Why is this launch so important?
SpaceX, the space company owned by US tech tycoon Elon Musk, has never staked more than it is now, marking the first time in history that a commercial airline has put humans into Earth orbit. NASA and space shuttle spending nearly a decade waiting for the milestone. Since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, the United States has been unable to send astronauts into space on its own. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to travel to Russia and take off aboard the country’s Soyuz. NASA spends as much as $86 million per seat.
But NASA chose not to create its own alternatives to the space shuttle. Instead, it requires the private sector to develop spacecraft capable of safely transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station. This is a very controversial decision, considering that NASA has never outsourced the development of a manned spacecraft before. The idea was that commercial companies could cut costs and spur innovation, and NASA would have more time and resources to focus on exploring deeper solar systems.
In 2014, NASA awarded two contracts: a $4.2 billion contract to Boeing for the development and manufacture of its Starliner, and a $2.6 billion contract to SpaceX to develop a manned Dragon spacecraft suitable for astronauts, a cargo version of which is already transporting supplies to and from the International Space Station. NASA has previously invested in SpaceX’s development of the Cargo Dragon spacecraft. The agency said Boeing received more money because it designed the StarLine spacecraft from scratch.
Boeing has suffered a major setback recently when the Starliner failed during a crucial unmanned test flight. But if SpaceX is able to complete the mission, it would be a major victory for NASA, which has been committed to promoting more commercial cooperation. Not to mention, NASA astronauts will no longer need to board russian spacecraft.
Is the launch safe during the outbreak?
SpaceX CEO Musk has been heavily criticised for making comments about the outbreak online. He has repeatedly said he believes the U.S. response to the outbreak has been exaggerated, and he has shared a lot of misinformation about the threat of the outbreak. But according to NASA, it is both necessary and safe to advance this special mission. NASA needs to keep the International Space Station running, and for that huge orbital laboratory it needs to be staffed enough.
NASA says astronauts planning the mission have been severely quarantined and are taking additional precautions. Launch officials and mission controllers will need to come together to support the launch, but they have implemented additional safety measures, such as replacing the control room at the start of a new shift so that another room can be deeply cleaned and disinfected.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he hoped the launch would inspire awe and boost public morale in the ongoing health crisis. He and SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell have previously implored the public to watch the launch on television to prevent a large crowd from flocking to the scene, leading to an increase in the outbreak.
Where is the launch and how do I watch it?
The rocket will take off from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida. The 39A launch pad dates back to the Apollo era, including support for the first human moon landing in 1969, which has been the starting point for the mission. SpaceX is currently leasing the launch pad from NASA.
SpaceX and NASA will co-host the webcast around 11 a.m. EST, and they will continue to dock with the International Space Station at least until about 19 hours after the launch of the manned Dragon spacecraft. CNN and other news networks will also share real-time updates on television and online.
Who’s flying into space?
The mission was carried out by two senior NASA astronauts: Robert Behnken, 49, and Douglas Hurley, 53. They work for NASA, but also work closely with SpaceX and have been trained to fly a manned Dragon spacecraft that will be NASA-certified and safe enough to be human,” after Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and space shuttles.
Both Benken and Hurley began their careers as military test pilots, having flown supersonic jets for hundreds of hours. They have also been involved in previous space shuttle missions on several occasions. When NASA chose them in 2018 for a private company commercial spacecraft mission, the agency continued its long-standing heritage of re-using military test pilots, and Benken and Hurley are considered qualified for breakthrough moments in human spaceflight history.
NASA hopes to keep Benken and Hurley on the International Space Station until the next manned Dragon spacecraft is ready to send more astronauts on their next mission. The two astronauts told reporters last week that they expected to spend one to three months in space. NASA says they stay for up to 110 days. When Benken and Hurley decide to return, they will again board the manned Dragon spacecraft, launch a parachute when the spacecraft returns to the atmosphere, and eventually land in the Atlantic Ocean.
Manned Dragon spacecraft real appearance
It’s a gum-shaped capsule, about 4 meters in diameter, equipped with seven seats and touch screen control. The manned Dragon spacecraft and astronauts will enter orbit aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and the astronauts will board the spacecraft on the day of launch using an aerial “crew approaching arm.” After the rocket launches the manned Dragon spacecraft into the upper atmosphere, the spacecraft will separate and launch its own thrusters to begin maneuvering to the space station.
The manned Dragon spacecraft is fully automated, so astronauts mainly need to monitor the system and stay in touch with mission control unless something goes wrong. Although Benken and Hurley were on board a few empty seats, they did not plan to bring extra luggage. But they will carry several special pieces of goods: a symbolic piece of art, and a composite photograph of the 2020 graduates.
Before arriving at the International Space Station, the astronauts will spend about 19 hours on board. There’s a space toilet on the manned Dragon, just in case. But details on how it works have not been released. But an astronaut involved in the manned Dragon spacecraft project said he had seen the design and said the conditions there were “perfectly up to the task.”
What’s on the International Space Station?
Figure 2: International Space Station operating above Earth
The International Space Station has been in Earth orbit for 20 years. The United States and Russia are the station’s main operators, but 240 astronauts from 19 countries have visited the station over the years. Since 2000, the International Space Station has been rotating astronauts, allowing thousands of scientific experiments in microgravity. The study ranged from the body’s response to going into space to the development of new drugs.
Typically, about six people are required to reside on the International Space Station. But now there are only three people: NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner.
What is the cost of the launch?
According to a 2019 report by NASA’s Office of the Inspector General, each seat launched by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft cost NASA about $90 million, an average of about $55 million per person over the past decade. The cost of sending a manned Dragon spacecraft to nasa’s space station is about $55 million. However, these are based on contract estimates, which do not clearly define the cost of each seat and only take into account the first six tasks.
A new analysis by the Planetary Society, a nonprofit group that promotes science and space exploration, shows that, overall, NASA’s “commercial astronaut” program is cost-effective compared with america’s previous manned space program.
Is the manned Dragon spacecraft safe?
In each of the major test milestones, SpaceX and NASA will conduct rigorous checks on manned Dragon spacecraft, and the mission will not be any different. Last week, NASA conducted a “launch readiness review” to ensure that all stakeholders can confidently move forward with the launch.
Any time a spacecraft leaves Earth, there is a risk, and there is no perfect way to predict them. During the outbreak, space tourism and rockets launched to Mars were considered “critical operations.” But NASA is really trying: According to NASA’s measures, SpaceX is asked to ensure that the probability of a catastrophic failure of a manned Dragon spacecraft is only 1/270. There have been numerous attempts to calculate the risk of a given space shuttle mission, with two of the 135 missions it carried out, making it about a 1/68 chance of a fatal accident, far higher than a manned Dragon spacecraft.
It should also be noted that the unmanned space trip before the manned Dragon spacecraft gave it more experience than other U.S. spacecraft before it allowed humans to board the spacecraft. The space shuttle, for example, has never conducted an unmanned test flight. The manned Dragon spacecraft is also equipped with a unique emergency abort system that, in the event of a problem, can send astronauts to safety.
How does manned launches affect U.S.-Russian relations?
Figure 3: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Russian space agency astronaut Alexander Skvortsov and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Palmitano aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the space station in July 2019.
Officials from both countries see their symbiotic relationship on the International Space Station as a model of post-Cold War cooperation. But tensions have escalated since the early 2010s, occasionally extending into the two countries’ space partnerships. But the International Space Station has survived other geopolitical tensions. U.S. and Russian astronauts are still working closely together. NASA officials say both Russia and Japan, another partner of the International Space Station, participated in a review of the safety of manned Dragon spacecraft last week.
The price of SpaceX’s success?
SpaceX’s relationship with NASA has changed dramatically over the years. In the first decade of this century, SpaceX’s first rocket launch attempts failed, and the company nearly went bankrupt in 2008 before managing to safely launch its early Falcon 1 rocket into orbit. After that, NASA seized the opportunity to award SpaceX a $1.6 billion contract to deliver cargo to the space station using a falcon 9 rocket and cargo ship.
SpaceX and NASA have been working closely since then. Their collaboration has undergone two failed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches: one in 2015, when a rocket carrying 2,268 kilograms of cargo to the space station exploded en route into orbit. In 2016, another Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a launch pad in Florida, destroying a $200 million telecommunications satellite.
But so far, most of the more than 80 Falcon 9 rocket missions SpaceX has launched have gone well. The development of the manned Dragon spacecraft suffered a setback last year, when SpaceX was conducting ground testing of the spacecraft’s emergency abort engine and an explosive failure. SpaceX spent months reconfiguring the design of the manned Dragon spacecraft and had NASA approve it before the aborted engineperformed during a test flight in January.
Can a manned Dragon spacecraft be reused?
One of SpaceX’s main goals is to reduce the cost of launching objects into space with reusable hardware. For example, cargo dragon ships that airlift cargo have been used up to three times. Since 2015, SpaceX has successfully recovered the first stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket dozens of times, the largest component to provide initial thrust when launched.
The rocket for the manned launch mission will be brand new, but SpaceX will try to land it at sea after launch. The company suggests that each manned Dragon spacecraft can make multiple space trips.
SpaceX’s most ambitious reuse effort will be the Starship, a giant spacecraft currently in its early stages of development. Musk hopes that every part of the starship, as well as the giant rocket boosters that put it into space, will be reused. The starship is at the heart of Musk’s long-term Plan for SpaceX, and the ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars.