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SpaceX and NASA announce: first manned launch in a decade from the USA - on May 27

Since the retirement of the shuttles, NASA has been assisted by the launch services of Russia, and now it is supposed to return to independence in space with the help of Elon Musk, if all goes well 

The Crew Dragon capsule with which the first manned launch in a decade will be carried out. Photo: SpaceX
The Crew Dragon capsule with which the first manned launch in a decade will be carried out. Photo: SpaceX

Under the somewhat anemic name Demo-2, SpaceX and NASA are about to make history on May 27. This is the date set for the launch of the Falcon 9 launcher carrying a Dragon-type spacecraft that has been upgraded so that it can carry out manned flights. In doing so, SpaceX will be the first company to launch a private launch to the space station, ending almost a decade in which, due to the shutdown of the shuttles, the Americans had to rely on the flight services of the Russian Space Agency.

The launch will take place from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first two astronauts to fly aboard the Dragon spacecraft as part of the Demo-2 mission. The Falcon 9 launcher and the Crew Dragon spacecraft with which the Demo-2 mission will be carried out are already at the launch site.

In preparation for Demo 2, SpaceX has completed several key milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew program. In March 2019, SpaceX completed an end-to-end test flight of the Crew Dragon without astronauts (Demo 1). This made Dragon the first American spacecraft to autonomously dock at the International Space Station and return safely to Earth.

In January 2020, SpaceX demonstrated the ability of the Dragon crew to escape if an emergency situation arises in the launch pad or at any point during the climb into space. SpaceX has completed over 700 tests of the spacecraft's SuperDraco engines, which can fly the escape capsule about a kilometer away from the Falcon 9 launcher in 7.5 seconds, it will accelerate in seconds at 400 km/h.

SpaceX has completed 26 tests of the Crew Dragon spacecraft's parachute design, so it can provide a safe landing back on Earth for astronauts returning from the space station. These tests include 13 single parachute descent tests, 12 multiple parachute experiments and a successful demonstration of the upgraded parachute system during a test launch of the spacecraft.

Also, SpaceX and NASA jointly carried out a series of simulations of sections of the mission from launch and docking to takeoff and landing, an end-to-end demonstration of protective cushion operations, and an integrated test of equipment that will be used to fly essential crew flight hardware in the Demo-2 crew which will be manned as mentioned.

The astronauts are training for the launch of the first manned spacecraft in a decade, Crew Dragon. Photo: SpaceX
The astronauts are training for the launch of the first manned spacecraft in a decade, Crew Dragon. Photo: SpaceX

The Demo-2 flight is the final major milestone for SpaceX's human spaceflight system to be approved by NASA for operational crewed missions to and from the International Space Station. After the flight is over, SpaceX and NASA will review the data collected during the flight. Therefore the participants in the flight will be active astronauts.

If all goes well, SpaceX will launch more NASA astronauts during the coming year - Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker and the Japanese astronaut Sochi Noguchi for the first operational mission of Crew Dragon. The four will stay on the station for about six months.

In the meantime, the competitor - Boeing, which also won a NASA tender to carry out manned flights, is faltering. In December 2019, on its maiden flight, the Starliner spacecraft failed to reach the International Space Station. A previous launch attempt was canceled due to a malfunction in the parachute that was discovered during the tests. The malfunction is added to the crashes of 737 Max planes, and now also to the aviation crisis caused by the outbreak of the corona virus.


For information on the SpaceX website

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6 תגובות

  1. Is the spaceship also supposed to return astronauts from the station to Earth? Will it happen in the next launch?

  2. In short: what Space-X is doing in Boca Chica is more important than the fluctuations in Boeing shares, or the question of when they will return the 737MAX to operation, or when they will fix the bugs of the Star Liner.

    And what Space-X will do, probably this week in Boca Chica, is: "jump" their starship-SN4 to a height of 150 meters and land it safely (and in the meantime: building SN5 and SN6. They are not going to waste time).

  3. The transfer of Boeing management to Chicago in 2001 is indeed an important step in the downfall of Boeing, but its merger with McDonnell-Douglas in 1996 in a stock exchange is the root of the failure of the merged company. MD actually bought Boeing with its own (Boeing's) money, and planted the management avenue in it. From here, the path to disconnecting Boeing's engineering staff from the corporate culture was short, and indeed went through the relocation of the headquarters to Chicago. There they could deal with the worldly things (finances), and not with the everyday nonsense of the engineers.

  4. I see the beginning of Boeing's decline in the transfer of management to Chicago (6-7 years ago). There was a disconnect between the management and the engineering team, who had to stay in Seattle. The marketing team probably moved with the management, and Boeing became a marketing oriented company, where engineering is a stepchild. Management disaster.
    There may still be a small chance, if a real manager comes along, who will fly the entire upper and middle management layer home and establish a new management from scratch, in Seattle. Even then it is not certain, because the damages from the 737-MAX will be terrible (it seems to me that they will be forced to turn them into cargo planes and sell them at half price, if they even get a license to fly).
    I visited Boeing many times, in the fighter development part and in the civil development part - while they were designing the 777. So the company was top notch. Too bad.

  5. Boeing has lost its engineering fervor. I am satisfied if she will even succeed in creating the medium-range wide-body plane (the 797), which she has been talking about for several years.

    I wonder if someone can get her back on track, or is she already lost.

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