In spring 2020, SpaceX plans to send two astronauts to the International Space Station on board the Crew Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX has recently completed tests showing that the Crew Dragon capsule can take astronauts to a safe place in the event of an accident. The test is part of NASA's Commercial Crew, a joint program by the space agency and private spacecraft manufacturers that can deliver astronauts to and from the ISS.
New era of US space flights
Since 2011, after completing the space shuttle mission, NASA has been buying seats on the Soyuz spacecraft to send astronauts to the ISS. However, these locations are becoming increasingly expensive: a seat for a return flight now costs NASA around $ 85 million. For this reason, the space agency launched its commercial crew program to stimulate the development of new spacecraft manufactured in the United States.
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Astronauts Bob Benke and Dag Hurley, the first to be launched into space on board a private spaceship, hope that their flight will usher in a new era in U.S. space travel. Business Insider writes that Boeng is also building a spacecraft as part of the Commercial Crew program, but SpaceX will still be the first.
Keep in mind that in recent tests, SpaceX fired and intentionally detonated one of its Falcon 9 rockets. This was the final step in the long process of testing the Crew Dragon A capsule to bring astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Read more about this exciting event in our special material.
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In addition to the obvious technological advances, NASA's commercial crew program is benefiting the US economy. Private companies are now competing for billions of dollars in government contracts, and SpaceX and Boeing rank first.
How is the preparation for the historic flight going?
Benke and Hurley have been working together for twenty years and have been preparing for the spring flight since 2018. You also advised SpaceX on the development of the internal Crew Dragon system, because crew safety is a top priority for every space mission. The flight preparation includes intensive training before the flight as well as trial training on the day of take-off. Both men informed The Atlantic that they were looking forward to being sent to the ISS in a new spacecraft. At the moment, they were already being trained to work with the mechanisms of the spacecraft, tried out new spacesuits and met the director of SpaceX to test the Crew Dragon escape pod.