The SpaceX of Elon Musk is about to execute the first mission of the Dragon Crew capsule to the International Space Station and vice versa. scheduled for March 2.
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Demo-1, as the name suggests, will not take the astronauts to the ISS, but will be a test of all the private company's equipment designed to be used in the actual mission. A manned mission could be scheduled as early as this summer.
Who can take us there?
Since the removal of the iconic Space Shuttle in 2011, NASA depends on Russian Soyuz rockets to take humans to the ISS. But all that will change now that SpaceX is on the scene.
Russian technology, which has been in service since the 1960s, is very expensive for US access. UU., Roscosmos charges up to 80 million dollars per astronaut. Another motivation to return this task of transporting astronauts to the Americans is rooted in the era of the Cold War: the United States wants its leadership position and the pride that it entails.
They have every opportunity to launch successful launches in the near future as two companies are working on this mission simultaneously: Boeing is testing the CST-100 Starliner capsule, while SpaceX is ready to send the Dragon Crew capsule to an orbital space flight on March 2 with the help of Falcon 9's own two-stage rocket from the company with a reusable first stage.
A demonstration flight aims to basically test all the characteristics of the Dragon Crew capsule, which is basically an improved version of the company's Dragon Cargo, remodeled to be able to travel with seven people on board.
Dragon Cargo He has completed supply missions to the ISS and has successfully returned since 2012, so it is more than likely that his most current sister will succeed on the first flight.
Dragon Crew is a reusable space capsule just like the Cargo variant, with attributes designed for human use, such as seats, windows and screens. The crucial element of the two-week mission will be the approach and coupling equipment test, and the re-entry system that guides the capsule back to Earth.
In addition, Dragon Crew is armored with an exhaust system, composed of eight SuperDraco SpaceX engines integrated in the capsule that separates it from the rocket in case of a failure during takeoff. (This function should be tested later in June before the first "real" takeoff with astronauts on board).
Only the first step before the big jump?
Dragon Crew can be seen as a prelude to something "absolutely insane": use the words of SpaceX founder / CEO Elon Musk when describing one of the company's infamous visions, called Starship, a spacecraft One hundred passengers "do it all", which is destined to take people to Mars in the immediate future, as well as to execute hypersonic flights between remote cities of the Earth.