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NASA to launch first crewed US mission to space station since 2011

The astronauts will be launched to International Space Station (ISS) in Crew Dragon spacecraft by SpaceX.

Apr 20, 2020 12:54 IST
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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on April 17 announced that it will launch astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to International Space Station (ISS) on May 27, 2020.

Since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program in 2011, it will be the first time that the rocket will carry astronauts from the United States. The lift-off will be from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre.

Due to COVID-19, there will be no line of spectators on the beaches and viewing sites as there always have been at the launch of every US mission. Alan Shepard was the first American to reach space in 1961.

The announcement of the launch was made through an official tweet by the Administrator of NASA on April 17. Here is the following tweet.

NASA Administrator Tweet

Key Highlights:

•  The astronauts will be launched to International Space Station (ISS) in Crew Dragon spacecraft by SpaceX.

•  Only a limited number of reporters will be allowed and NASA will not any public members.

•  After the launch on May 27, the astronauts will spend as long as 110 days in space and they will return on Crew Dragon Capsule.

•  Both the astronauts, Hurley and Behnken are veteran astronauts and former military test pilots who previously flew on space shuttle missions.

•  Due to COVID-19, NASA has shut down many activities but has maintained all ISS related activities.

The United States and Russia in International Space Station (ISS):

International Space Station (ISS) has been hosting a crew of astronauts from all over the world since 2000.

The primary operators of ISS are Russia and the US. Since 2011, Russia has become the only country that has been capable of transporting astronauts to and from International Space Station (ISS).

NASA’s astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir returned from their stay on April 17 in Russian spacecraft.

As per the Space Agency Inspector General, NASA has paid up to $86 million and around $55.4 million on average in order to fly US astronauts aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

Crew Dragon: NASA’s Spacecraft

NASA had reached out private sector to develop a new generation of crew worthy spacecraft. NASA allotted $2.6 billion to SpaceX and $4.2 billion to Boeing in 2014. The vehicles were predicted to be ready by 2017, but the development of the spacecraft took years longer than expected.

Both Boeing and SpaceX have announced plans of flying tourists aboard spacecraft alongside NASA astronauts.

Crew Dragon: After the successful test of Crew Dragon Spacecraft’s emergency abort mission in January, SpaceX emerged as a clear leader. In May, the Crew Dragon Mission, dubbed Demo-2, will be the final test.

Starliner: Boeing’s Spacecraft Starliner suffered a major setback during an uncrewed orbital flight test. The company mentioned that the test mission will be repeated in fall.

Starliner and Crew Dragon are privately owned even though NASA paid the companies for the development of the vehicles. NASA is the customer of these private companies, unlike previous human spaceflight programs.

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