Elon Musk launches 'taxi to Earth orbit': how this historical mission can change the world
On the evening of May 27, the SpaceX manned spacecraft will be launched to the ISS from the United States - an event that the American space industry has been waiting for almost 10 years. Edition with the BBC told what you should know about this mission and why it is so important for the space industry - and not only the American one.
On Wednesday, around 16:30 p.m. New York, a Falcon 9 rocket will fly from the launch pad in Florida to launch the SpaceX Crew Dragon manned orbit.
On board will be two American astronauts - 49-year-old Robert Benken and 53-year-old Douglas Hurley. Two weeks ago they were both quarantined - although the coronavirus was not found in them, NASA fears that astronauts will bring the disease to the ISS.
The launch of the ship is planned to be personally visited by US President Donald Trump, while ordinary viewers will be able to watch the launch only in Live.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NASA decided to keep spectators out of the observation deck of the Kennedy Space Center.
Since 2011, when the United States closed the Space Shuttle program, the country found itself without its own manned ships. American astronauts could actually get on board the ISS in only one way - on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
The problem is not only that it hit the international prestige of the United States, but also that Russian services cost NASA not cheap: they had to pay a lot of money for sending.
At the same time, Russia constantly raised prices while the cost of sending only one astronaut is about $ 90 million - about 4 times more than 10 years ago.
But the use of SpaceX ships is estimated to cost the Americans only $ 55 million per seat.
The refusal of the Americans to use the "Unions", in fact, will become a new page in the American space industry and the end of dependence on Russia. But for the Russian Federation, specialists are already predicting problems: the state-owned corporation Roskosmos may lose a substantial part of its income.
The head of Roskosmos Dmitry Rogozin has already accused NASA and SpaceX of dumping and in response announced a reduction in the cost of Russian launches by 30%.
What Crew Dragon Looks Like
However, the difference between Crew Dragon and Soyuz is not only the cost of the flight. The spacecraft was created in such a way that the flight in it was as comfortable as possible for astronauts.
There are four windows in the capsule through which the crew will be able to observe the Earth and other objects without getting up from their seats. The seats are made of carbon fiber and Alcantara - a textile material similar to suede.
The ship is partially controlled by touch screens: on them astronauts will be able to see information about the position of the ship, the distance to the destination, conditions overboard and the like.
The ship is also equipped with climate control so that the crew can set a comfortable temperature for themselves.
You can control the Crew Dragon both from the ship itself and from the flight control center on Earth.
How will the flight go
It is expected that within 12 minutes after launch, Crew Dragon will go into orbit, separate from the Falcon 9 booster rocket and continue moving to the ISS, while the first stage of the Falcon 9 will return to Earth.
If everything goes according to plan, then on May 28, at about 15:00 New York, the ship will dock with the International Space Station, astronauts will open the hatches and get on board the ISS, where they will be approximately 30 to 110 days.
On the subject: SpaceX has chosen the first ever tourist to go to the moon
How long the Crew Dragon ship itself will be on the ISS is not yet clear, but according to plans, the ship will return with several other astronauts.
If something goes wrong during the launch, the crew will immediately launch the emergency compartment from the rocket - Crew Dragon will disconnect the capsule with the astronauts and land by parachute in one of the specific areas in the Atlantic Ocean, from where the crew will be evacuated.
So that Internet users can understand how the process of connecting Crew Dragon to the ISS will occur, SpaceX released online simulator: everyone can try themselves as a crew member.
- SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 2, 2017
Space plans Ilona Mask
It is important that the private structure will be responsible for sending astronauts to the ISS, and NASA, by and large, will act as its client.
Over the past 10 years, NASA has funded two projects - in addition to SpaceX, Boeing also received money from the state. However, SpaceX turned out to be more agile - the launch of its Boeing rocket will not take place until next spring.
NASA's total expenses for both projects have already amounted to more than $ 6 billion, but the agency is confident that in the long term, savings will amount to tens of billions.
The founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, has been moving towards this stage - sending people into space - since he founded the company in 2002. Now this dream has every chance to come true.
In the event that the launch of Crew Dragon is successful, NASA will approve its use for regular delivery of astronauts to the ISS. Prior to this, SpaceX trusted only the delivery of goods.
SpaceX’s further plans are even larger - in the coming years the company plans to send tourists into orbit, and in the future - to transport people and cargo to Mars.
18 years ago, when he founded SpaceX, Musk called the colonization of Mars the main goal of the new company.
The online broadcast of the launch has not yet begun, but the video where it will be is already available.
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