SpaceX is above the moon after the successful completion of the company’s first ever crew mission.
Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station wrapped in a week (August 2) when a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying NASA astronauts Bob Benken and Doug Hurley flooded the Gulf of Mexico.
During a press conference Sunday after the historic landing, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwyn Shotwell expressed his excitement, saying that the success of the mission is good for the future.
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“This mission was incredibly smooth,” she said. “Not to mention there weren’t things we needed to work on and do better next time, but the capsule works great.”
“We certainly feel comfortable that we are on the right track to transport commercial passengers,” she added.
Now that Crew Dragon capsulewhich Becken and Hurley, named Endeavor, are safe on Earth again, the engineers will spend several weeks combining mission data to make sure everything went as expected.
Early income is positive in this regard, Shotwell said.
“Based on telemetry and all the visual indications we’ve had so far, the vehicle seems to be in really good shape,” she said.
Once this analysis is complete, NASA is expected to certify Crew Dragon and SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for crew trips to orbit. Steve Stitch, manager of NASA’s Sales Team, said the certification process could be completed by the end of August.
SpaceX has a contract to fly at least six crew missions to the International Space Station as part of its commercial crew contract with NASA. The first operational flight, known as Crew-1, is scheduled to launch in late September. But that’s not all SpaceX has planned.
The California-based rocket builder struck a deal with Virginia-based Space Adventures earlier this year until Fly four space tourists on Crew DragonIt is believed that this mission will start sometime in late 2021.
“This historic mission will find a way to make space flight possible for anyone who dreams of it. We are pleased to be working with the Space Adventures team on the mission,” Shotwell said in a statement from Space Adventures in February this year.
In photos: Behind the scenes, they watch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft
Under the agreement, four passengers will orbit Falcon 9. Crew Dragon will not meet the space station; it will orbit the Earth in five days like a free-flying spacecraft that rises taller than the orbital laboratory.
“This will give up to four people the opportunity to break the world altitude record for space flight of private citizens and see the planet Earth in a way that no one had after the Gemini program,” representatives of Space Adventures said in the same statement, (The space station orbits at an average altitude of about 250 miles or 400 kilometers.)
SpaceX has also signed deal with Axiom Space to transport private astronauts in space. The space launcher in Houston has reached an agreement with SpaceX to send a total of four astronauts to the space station sometime in 2021.
The crew will include three private astronauts and one Axiom mission commander undertaking a 10-day mission to the International Space Station. The crew will be selected and trained by Axiom, with SpaceX providing the taxi service.
Axiom Space has not released details on how much SpaceX will pay to fly the four to the International Space Station. In the past, however, the company said such a flight for space tourists would cost about $ 55 million on the spot, with most of that cost likely to go to SpaceX for the rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Last year, NASA opened the way for commercial travel to the space station, saying he would charge $ 35,000 per person per day for a private stay in the orbital laboratory.
The upcoming flight and others who will follow it will be just the beginning, if everything goes according to Axiom’s plan. The company also aims to install its own commercial module on the space station and eventually create its own orbital outpost.
Axiom officials say this is part of a two-step process the company has envisioned to build and service a growing market for access to low-Earth orbit (LEO).
“These flights, together with supporting growth and servicing the demand for access to LEO in the near future, will give our operational procedures formal testing to prepare when we start operating flights to our own modules,” Representatives of Axiom said,,
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein reiterated this mood during a British briefing on Sunday, explaining that the success of the Demo-2 mission is a shining example of how well public-private partnerships work and how important they are for the future of space exploration.
Shotwell expressed great optimism for the future.
“This is really just the beginning,” she told a news conference. “We begin the journey of regularly taking people to and from low-Earth orbit and to the moon, and then finally to Mars.”
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