After a gap of nine years, during which US astronauts had to take uncomfortable rides to the space station in Russia’s cramped Soyuz space capsules, Americans are set to return to orbit in their own spacecraft – in this case, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship.
It’s a milestone in the effort to commercialize space. But for Musk’s company, SpaceX, it’s also the latest milestone in a wild ride that began with epic failures and the threat of bankruptcy.
As seen in the past few years private businesses are dominating the American space battle leaving behind its often troubled managed space program. Private companies like spaceX and Blue Origin have already been delivering supplies to the space station and is now all ready to send crewed spaceflights into earth’s orbit.
To date, only the governments of America, Russia, and China have been able to mount manned space programs. Now US business is taking a lead.
The first astronauts launched by SpaceX are breaking new ground for style with hip spacesuits, gull-wing Teslas, and a sleek rocketship — all of it white with black trim.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken appreciate the new look of their fresh spacesuits. To add more style to the program they will catch a ride to the launchpad in a Tesla Model X.
“It is really neat, and I think the biggest testament to that is my 10-year-old son telling me how cool I am now,” Hurley told The Associated Press.
Nasa has contracted both SpaceX and airplane manufacturer Boeing to pick up where the shuttles left off.
The difference this time is that the agency will not own and operate the vehicles. It will merely be buying “tickets to ride”.
SpaceX and Boeing will be free to sell their services to other space agencies, other companies and even individuals.
Hurley and Behnken have named their Dragon in the tradition of all previous American crew ships. They’ll reveal that name on Wednesday. – BBC
The rehearsal for this program commenced on Saturday for the benefit of the astronauts and launch control teams.