By Rishabh Budhia

On 30th May 2020(Saturday) Space X, the private rocket company of the multibillionaire tycoon Elon Musk created history by launching two American origins NASA astronauts into space in its newly designed Crew Dragon spacecraft capsule using a Falcon 9 rocket. It was the first time in nine years that NASA astronauts had been launched into the orbit from the U.S. soil. The earlier launches of SpaceX ‘s Falcon 9 and Falcon heavy rockets have been successful is delivering cargo payloads to the orbit but it was the first time that humans have been aboard a SpaceX rocket.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre at 3:22pm EDT carrying Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken the two NASA astronauts on a 19-hour journey bound towards the International Space Station.

Just before the lift-off, Hurley paraphrased the famous comment of Alan Shepherd in 1961 who was the first American to fly to space by saying- “Space X, we are going for launch. Let’s light this candle”.

Minutes after the launch of the Falcon 9’s stage one booster rocket separated from the second-stage upper rocket and descended safely on a platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch of the rocket was a welcome triumph for the country that was under civil unrest and also affected by the ongoing demonic coronavirus pandemic.

The Falcon 9 was launched from the same launch pad like that of NASA’s final space shuttle flight, piloted by Doug Hurley in 2011. The U.S. President Mr. Donald Trump was present at the Kennedy Space centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida for the launch and exclaimed that the sight of the launch was a beautiful one to see, the power and the technology involved was incredible. He also stated that the launch was a beginning and soon there would be flight launches to Mars. 

The mission, scheduled to launch on Wednesday was postponed with less than seventeen (17) minutes remaining on the countdown due to unsuitable weather conditions. For Elon Musk the successful launch was a milestone for the reusable rockets that his company developed to make spaceflight cheaper and more frequent. It was the first time commercially developed space vehicles owned and operated by a private entity other than NASA have carried Americans to space.

 Mr. Hurley age 53 and Mr. Behnken aged 49 are on a multi-week mission expected to last for six to sixteen weeks including meeting with the ISS depending on the requirement of NASA and how long it aims for the mission to last. The newly designed Crew Dragon will first perform a manual control test for 30 minutes, wherein Behnken and Hurley will take over and fly the spacecraft on their own. After that manual control test, Crew Dragon will again take over and then fly the remaining way to the ISS, where it’ll dock itself with an entry hatch on the station, from where Behnken and Hurley will transfer over to the station (ISS).

The duration of the stay will be dependent on the staffing requirements onboard the ISS. Both the astronauts will be tasked with assisting with experiments and maintenance on the space station.

The return program is designed to be fully automated with both the astronauts climbing back into the Crew Dragon, seal it, and then detach it from the space station. The spacecraft will provide the necessary boost back engine and thrust to enter back into the earth’s atmosphere after which it will release the parachutes to slow the return to the earth and land on the Atlantic Ocean from where the astronauts will be brought back to the land.

Link: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/nasa-resumes-human-spaceflight-from-us-soil-with-historic-spacex-launch/article31713282.ece

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