SpaceX NASA Launch Revitalizes Manned Space Program

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The recent successful launch of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo 2 manned mission was the second most watched space launch in history after the Apollo Moon Landing July 20, 1969.

Launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the historic Launch Pad Complex 39A used to launch the first Apollo mission that carried men to the moon and also the entire Space Shuttle program until it's retirement in 2011, has again become the site used to launch the next era of space exploration.


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More than 10 million people watched the May 30, 2020 launch making it the most watched online event in history. At least 150,000 spectators gathered at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to witness the first private company to launch astronauts into orbit. The July 21, 1969 Apollo Moon Landing remains the most watched space event in history with an estimated 660 million people globally watching astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take that first step onto the moon's surface.

The retirement of the Space Shuttle program nine years ago halted regular manned missions and the decision was made to worked with aeronautic companies to reinvigorate the space program, manned missions and enhance the vision of the program.


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Astronauts of the Crew Dragon, designed by Space X founder Elon Musk, are veteran NASA Astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas O. Hurley, both of whom have logged a combined 1500 hours in space, and each have piloted Shuttle missions.

About 250 miles above the earth, in what is called low earth orbit, The International Space Station a collaborative project between five space programs including the Russians (Roscosmos), Japanese (JAXA), European nations (ESA), and Canadian (CSA), is a working laboratory, and has been continuously manned for nearly twenty years.


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"The goal is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations. NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX in September 2014 to transport crew to the International Space Station from the United States. These integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems will carry up to four astronauts on NASA missions, maintaining a space station crew of seven to maximize time dedicated to scientific research on the orbiting laboratory," NASA said.

The expectation is the ISS will remain active until at least 2024, with expectations of continued use into 2030. With the success of the SpaceX Falcon mission and the reusability factor, which dramatically reduces the cost of space travel, the belief that rejuvenated space exploration program and the possibility of a further manned missions and even reaching Mars is conceivable.


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"We're really looking to be a customer to SpaceX, and to other companies, in the future," said James Morhard, NASA's deputy administrator. "That's what we're trying to do is to create an expanse, really expand the economy in low-Earth orbit. That's really what this is about," The New York Times reported.

The Crew Dragon space capsule is a high-tech modernized marvel, removing many of the instrument buttons for swipe screens and touch pad instrumentation. The interior which, when pictured side by side, has a sleeker more streamlined aerodynamic appearance. From the cone down, Apollo capsule has a triangle shape with a wider base, Crew Dragon tapers from the cone to gradually increase in width without the wide base. It is larger and provides more cargo space.

 

Apollo space capsule held three astronauts in a very narrow space, Crew Dragon capsule holds up to seven with seating that can be removed depending on the mission size, allowing for additional cargo and supplies.

This manned mission is the culmination of eight years of unmanned supply runs to the International Space Station and was tested step by step with a launch and an end-to-end test completed with docking at the International Space station was completed in March 2019.

Musk, who is also the founder of Tesla automobile company, has vocalized his passion to see the colonization of Mars in a project he called Mars Oasis conceptualized in 2001. Eighteen years later, the first step in his goal is complete making exploration accessible to more and reviving interest in the final frontier.

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