WASHINGTON (Agence France-Presse)-NASA approved last Friday the plan to launch two astronauts on the SpaceX ship next week-this is the first manned space flight from American soil in nine years, which is towards the end of the United States A crucial step towards dependence on Russian rockets.
Since Thursday, senior officials of NASA and Elon Musk have been meeting at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to conduct a final inspection of the crew capsule before the first manned mission on May 27.
NASA Director Jim Bridenstine made a carefully prepared “Flight Readiness Review” to reporters via video, telling reporters: “Finally we have to work hard.”
US astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley plan to launch from Kennedy ’s historic launch pad 39A at 4:33 pm Wednesday (2033 GMT) and arrive at the International Space Station the next day .
When asked how to continue to perform tasks in the coronavirus pandemic, Becken told reporters: “If you have aspirations, things will happen.”
Since May 13, Behnken and Hurley have been strictly isolated due to the pandemic, but they said that their actual isolation began in mid-March.
Hurley said: “We may be quarantined longer than any other astronaut in the history of the space program.”
He said that so far, he and Behnken have conducted two tests on COVID-19, “There are rumors that we may test again before we set off.”
Since the U.S. Space Shuttle program was shelved in 2011 after serving for thirty years, U.S. astronauts have been flying to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket. The space currently can accommodate two Russians and one American.
If the SpaceX mission succeeds, the United States will achieve the goal of no longer needing to buy the seat of the Russian Soyuz rocket to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Since 2000, the space station has been occupied by American and Russian astronauts.
NASA has awarded SpaceX a contract worth $ 3.1 billion and a Boeing contract worth $ 4.9 billion to allow the United States to enter space independently again.
The original goal of the crew flight to replace the space shuttle was 2015, and the late Neil Armstrong was the first to land on the moon, once described as “embarrassing.”
Behnken and Hurley have been training on the Crew Dragon capsule for 5 years. The platform is equipped with a touch screen instead of the switches and buttons of the 1960s Apollo capsule.
Unlike the space shuttle that had two fatal accidents, the SpaceX capsule includes an emergency escape system to prevent problems after launch.
At the end of the mission, which is expected to last for several months, the Crew Dragon will splash in the ocean like an Apollo capsule, slowed down by four huge parachutes.
In the following years, SpaceX and Boeing were required to conduct six manned voyages to ISS each.
If the Crew Dragon mission (Baptized Demo-2) succeeds next week, SpaceX will become the first private company to transport astronauts to the ISS.
Demo-1 is a mannequin flight successfully carried out on the plane in March 2019.
Boeing conducted an unmanned flight test of its Starliner capsule in December, but it encountered multiple failures.
After the Crew Dragon is in service, the US-Russia cooperation will not end. NASA plans to use the Soyuz rocket to send some astronauts into space.
SpaceX will also provide flights to non-US astronauts, and Musk’s company hopes to eventually send tourists into space.
A private three-man mission is planned for the second half of 2021, and the ticket is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars.