The commercialization of space travel

Mona Hetzel
November 16, 2020

For a long time Nasa was dependent on Russia for the transport of astronauts. But that has now come to an end. The Crew 1 mission is the first official Nasa mission. Shortly before the launch there was a short excitement about a leak at the space capsule, but nevertheless the launch was successful.The commercialization of space is the mission of Elon Musk. He becomes the first ticket seller for Nasa flights to the "International Space Station" (ISS) and opens up space travel for commercial space flights. Under the bold motto "Launch America", his space company SpaceX now launched four people with its reusable Dragon capsule and reusable Falcon 9 rocket to the "ISS".

SpaceX already showed a smooth test flight with two astronauts to the "ISS" from May to August. But the mission now known as "Crew 1" is the first official Nasa mission. In addition, the mission is considered to pave the way for future paid space missions with a private company.The capsule, which departed from the U.S. spaceport Cape Canaveral in Florida late Sunday evening and transported four people in a row side by side. The Dragon capsule even offers space for up to seven people. Four people were also on board during the last space shuttle mission.
The crew of the now launched mission includes U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins, 51, as commander, and Victor Glover, 44, as well as Nasa astronaut Shannon Walker, 55, and Japanese astronaut Söichi Noguchi, 55. This is the first space flight only for Glover. All in all an experienced crew. Noguchi is one of only three people in the world to have taken off in three different space flight devices (Space Shuttle, Soyuz, Dragon).SpaceX could possibly even transport Russian cosmonauts to the "ISS". The brand-new Dragon capsule is to remain docked to the "ISS" for around six months and then return to Earth. After the flights of the space shuttle Space Shuttle were discontinued in 2011, the USA now has a possibility again to send several people into space itself. The USA no longer has to pay millions for the opportunity to fly in Russian Soyuz capsules to send US astronauts to the "ISS".

The preparations on launch day did not run smoothly. On the one hand, there were the aforementioned difficulties caused by a leak in the capsule pressure. For example, just under two hours before lift-off, the already closed cabin door had to be opened again in an unscheduled manner Allegedly there was a "foreign object" in the sealing of the capsule door, which was removed by service crews. In addition, the launch was slightly delayed due to bad weather conditions.For the technical entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is also at the head of the electric car manufacturer Tesla, the space flight that has now been launched is a triumph. Despite years of delays in the project, his space company SpaceX, which was only founded in 2002, is proving to be technically more successful than the more than 100-year-old aerospace company Boeing, which was also selected by Nasa as a provider of astronaut flights to the "ISS". After an unmanned breakdown flight of the Boeing capsule Starliner almost a year ago, it is currently still open when Boeing will also be able to offer Nasa safe flights. First of all, Boeing has to prove in another test flight that it could also work with the large US corporation.The Dragon capsule is an extremely modern and somewhat comoftable spacecraft. It does away with dozens of clip switches and tight spaces. The only disadvantage is the flight time.

However, the Dragon capsule flight to the "ISS", including the automatically planned docking, takes about 27 hours, which is considerably longer than the recent short flight of a Soyuz capsule in October, which took only three hours.Behind the SpaceX is the strategy of reusable rockets and space flight capsules. Nevertheless, the technology now used in the manned flight was brand new. After all, it is the 21 launch of SpaceX this year alone. The first launch stage of the Falcon 9 recycling rocket landed on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean just ten minutes after launch as planned.

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