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After 10 years, the USA returns to space in a spaceship of its own

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 24 abr 2020, 6:26 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 8 oct 2020, 10:52 ]
On May 27, after 10 years, two North American astronauts will return to space in a spaceship manufactured in that country. Since July 21, 2011, only Russian Soyuz capsules have been used to travel to the International Space Station.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsule will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station on May 27, 2020. It will be the first manned mission launched from US soil in almost 10 years.

NASA's traditional "worm logo" has been used again, this time in SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket that will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station on board a Crew Dragon capsule.
On May 27, aerospace company SpaceX will launch astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the “Demo-2” mission to the International Space Station, in what will be the first manned mission in NASA's commercial crew program.

The launch of the Crew Dragon capsule with the two astronauts will mark an important milestone for NASA’s Manned Commercial Program, which involves the development by SpaceX and Boeing of spacecraft capable of carrying humans to the International Space Station (ISS). With that, NASA wants to end its reliance on the Russian Soyuz space capsule for such purposes.

The US space agency has paid up to 86 million dollars per seat and about 55,4 million on average to carry its astronauts aboard the Russian capsules. 

SpaceX’s “Demo-1” mission took place in early 2019, when an unmanned Crew Dragon space capsule successfully made the trip to the International Space Station and then returned to Earth. 

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will take off from Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will sport the old and traditional NASA “worm” logo. They will then be in space up to 110 days, although NASA said that “the specific duration of the mission will be determined at the station based on the preparation of the next launch by a commercial crew.”

End of the space shuttles 

After a 30-year flight program —between 1981 and 2011— and with two great tragedies in its history, NASA’s space shuttles were taken out of commission, thus marking the end of manned flights into space from American territory. 

On July 21, 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis landed on the runway of the John Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a 13-day mission.

It flew into space 33 times out of a total of 135 trips made by NASA space shuttles since Columbia’s first voyage on April 12, 1981. 

The history of these vehicles was struck by tragedy twice, in January 1986 and February 2003, when, for different reasons, the Challenger and Columbia shuttles disintegrated with seven astronauts on board each, adding to the martyrs and pioneers who have lost their life on trips to outer space.

Impact of Coronavirus 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there will be no spectators on the beaches and viewing sites to watch the rocket lift off to the ISS, as was customary for US manned missions since Alan Shepard became the first US citizen to reach outer space in 1961. 

NASA has canceled many of its activities as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, but has kept those linked to the Space Station. On Friday, April 17, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan returned to Earth aboard a Soyuz capsule. 

The ISS has had a crew of astronauts from around the world continuously since 2000. The United States and Russia are its main operators, but since 2011 Russia has been the only country capable of transporting astronauts to and from the space station. 

Artemis Program 

NASA and SpaceX hope that the “Demo-2” mission will usher in a new era in human spaceflight that will be followed by regular crew launches to the International Space Station. 

But that is not all. The US space agency also works on the Artemis Program, whose mission is to take the first woman to the Moon in 2024, accompanied by a male astronaut. 

According to information provided by NASA, to achieve this goal it will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than has been done so far. 

“We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration in 2028. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant step - send astronauts to Mars,” the US space agency states at Artemis Program's website.