SPACEX CREW DRAGON DOCKS AT ISS SAFELY
Historic Space Travel Firsts
History was made on May 30, 2020 when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 2 US astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, strapped onboard the SpaceX spacecraft Crew Dragon. Within 12 minutes, Crew Dragon separated from the rocket and hurtled into space to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). Next day, May 31, 2020, Crew Dragon autonomously docked with the ISS. The docking happened 19 hours after launch. Crew Dragon used 12 separate latches to create an air locked seal between Dragon and the ISS for the 2 US astronauts to go onboard the ISS and join 3 other astronauts - 2 Russians and 1 American, already there. History was made by SpaceX, NASA and the two brave, US astronauts. SpaceX had never carried humans into space before this. Crew Dragon is an autonomous space vehicle that the astronauts can also do some fly time in. The achievements of the SpaceX technology are awesome. It also linked Crew Dragon's power supply to the ISS.
Series of Historic Firsts
This is a huge win for Elon Musk and SpaceX, which he founded in 2002. SpaceX designed, developed, deployed and tested the human-rated spacecraft. This is the first launch of US astronauts from US soil in nearly 10 years. It's the first time that NASA commissioned a private company to ferry US astronauts into space. And, it is the first time that SpaceX has blasted off into space with humans onboard. SpaceX has a robust commercial space launch program including a contract to ferry supplies to the ISS and its Starlink Satellite program.
Private Citizen Travel to Space
Experts expect and hope that this event, and the successful return of the two astronauts by fall 2020, will usher in a whole new era of space travel and exploration for the US. SpaceX has a goal of providing private citizens with the opportunity to travel into space to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Elon Musk views it as a big part of the future of travel.
Endeavour - "Slick Vehicle", Slick Mission
Astronauts Hurley and Behnken could not have been happier with Crew Dragon's 19 hour space journey to the ISS. They called it a "slick vehicle". They decided to give their mission a new name "Endeavour", after the 18th century ship commanded by British explorer Sir James Cook.
NASA's Private Commercial Route
NASA decided to ask the private sector to design vehicles to transport goods and humans to the ISS in 2011, when it retired the space shuttle program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon launch and docking have provided great affirmation. While NASA awaits the return of the crew, most likely in September 2020, it is very likely to go the private route for its next big mission to put astronauts on the Moon in 2024.