Elon Musk’s Led SpaceX unveils Dragon Spacecraft for the first manned mission
NASA has announced the crew for its first ever manned flights of SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner to the International Space Station planned for next year. For the first time since 2011, NASA is launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first manned mission.
The Rocket duo
SpaceX’s and Boeing’s rockets will be the first commercially-developed vehicles to transport astronauts to the ISS. SpaceX’s first flight test is scheduled for April 2019, while Boeing’s is planned for mid-2019.
Both SpaceX and Boeing are intended to do a test flight and a crewed test flight before starting with their routine missions to the ISS. Boeing is now targeting the end of this year or the beginning of next year for its uncrewed flight, and it will try to fly its first crew in mid-2019. SpaceX will do its first test flight in November, and the one with a crew in April of next year.
These planned rocket launches will definitely be a major milestone for NASA.
To be the crew of America’s mission
The Boeing Starliner’s long-duration operational mission will be crewed by John Cassada, a Navy commander, and experienced test pilot. He is supposed to be accompanied by astronaut Sunita Williams on their first flight. Sunita Williams has spent 322 days in space, served as commander of the ISS, and been into seven spacewalks. The Starliner mission was originally planned to last only two weeks, but it may be extended for six months at the International Space Station (ISS).
The SpaceX Dragon’s first operational mission will be manned by Victor Glover, a Navy commander, naval aviator, and test pilot who will be making his first space flight. He will be joined by Mike Hopkins, a veteran astronaut with more than 160 days at the ISS. Both Glover and Hopkins are entitled to remain on the ISS throughout the stay.
Dragon rocket will be crewed by Dr. Bob Behnken, a Space Shuttle Endeavour veteran with an experience in spacewalk for more than 37 hours. In addition, Doug Hurley, who piloted the Endeavour on its July 2009 mission is also summoned for the flight.
NASA to land in ISS with their own spacecraft and astronauts
These missions are a part of NASA’s initiative to use commercial aircraft in its space exploration. Boeing and SpaceX created a spacecraft worth $6.8 billion to transport crews to the International Space Station.
For the last seven years, NASA has been relying on Russia to get its astronauts to the ISS. The space agency has also spent about $80 million to purchase a seat for one of its astronauts on Russia’s Soyuz vehicle. However, NASA’s pre-purchased seats are expected to run out by next year, around the time that crews are supposed to start flying with SpaceX and Boeing.
Americans all across the country are excited about their rocket mission from their own soil. Eventually, they are ready to start flying in space again. Hopefully, they will accomplish their own mission of sending their astronauts to ISS. But once these crews fly, it will mark the first time that NASA astronauts have launched from US soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program.