The 14th launch of a New Shepard rocket will send a space capsule past the edge of space to test the system ahead of its first passenger flights.
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Four astronauts are set to launch aboard a Crew Dragon space capsule in October. They named their ship "Resilience" to reflect a "challenging year."
SpaceX and NASA's Crew Demo-2 mission is officially a success after the safe return of the Crew Dragon capsule and the astronauts inside. Elon Musk has said that this was the most nerve-racking part of the entire mission. High speeds and temperatures make it extremely dangerous to reenter Earth's atmosphere and splash down safely. Here's everything that had to go right in order to bring Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley home. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Following is a transcript of the video. Abby Tang: Moving at about 28,000 kilometers per hour through temperatures of up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and the astronauts inside safely reentered Earth's atmosphere on August 2nd. NASA: Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. Abby Tang:  The world nervously watched the historic launch, the first from US soil in almost a decade on May 30th, 2020. But it's this landing that Elon Musk most feared. Here's what had to go right in order to bring Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley home. There are two main reasons why reentry is the most dangerous part of the mission. Extreme speed and temperature. SpaceX and NASA had to think about these factors in three key ways. The first pain point was finding the precise angle for reentry. Not steep enough, the Crew Dragon would have bounced right off the atmosphere and back into orbit. Too sharp or too fast and the astronauts could have faced fatal gravitational forces and the spacecraft could have caused enough drag to break up and disintegrate. Then even at the correct angle, moving at about 25 times the speed of sound through the atmosphere, creates extreme friction, which produces superheated plasma. A heat shield has to deflect and absorb the energy created by the plasma. At 3,500 degrees, the shield gets hot enough to glow, but Musk said "due to the Crew Dragon's asymmetric design, "the craft could have over-rotated during reentry "and diverted plasma into launch escape pods on the side." If that happened, the ship could have overheated in some parts or started wobbling, causing the crew to lose control. The plasma caused a six minute communications blackout between the Crew Dragon and Earth. NASA: Dragon SpaceX, comm check. Abby Tang: So if anything went wrong in that moment, remote control would have been impossible. In 2019, auditor's listed parachute problems as a key risk to NASA's commercial crew program. And the physics turbulence, a space capsule parachute goes through is one of the most difficult calculations for researchers. SpaceX and NASA had to design a completely new system for the Crew Dragon. After multiple versions and dozens of tests, the Mark three design was approved. Even so Musk's worry was that they might not deploy correctly or that the system would guide the Crew Dragon to the wrong splashdown location. All of these risks were assessed and calculated six ways to Sunday as Musk told aviation week, but they could never be fully done away with. NASA estimated that there was a one in 276 chance of this mission being fatal, but both Behnken and Hurley told us they were comfortable with those odds. Luckily that bet paid off. We can officially call this historic mission a success. And SpaceX is set to fly the same Crew Dragon back into space with four astronauts in spring of 2021.    Join the conversation about this story »
SpaceX returned two NASA astronauts to Earth on Sunday after flying them to the International Space Station. The mission, called Demo-2, flew the first crewed US spacecraft since the end of NASA's space shuttle program in 2011. SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship is a product of NASA's Commercial Crew program, a partnership between the space agency and private companies. Boeing is also building a spaceship as part of the program, but SpaceX's progressed faster. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. SpaceX and NASA celebrated a major milestone on Sunday: the completion of the world's first crewed commercial spaceflight. The company's Crew Dragon spaceship carried two NASA astronauts into orbit and docked to the space station two months ago, then returned on Sunday in a fiery plunge through Earth's atmosphere. The mission, called Demo-2, was the last major test before NASA certifies the Crew Dragon to carry more people into space. "This day heralds a new age of space exploration," Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO, said during a NASA TV broadcast after the splashdown, adding, "I'm not very religious, but I prayed for this one." Since NASA ended its space-shuttle program in 2011, the agency has relied exclusively on Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from orbit in Soyuz spacecraft. But those seats have gotten increasingly expensive, and the world's space agencies have had no alternative for launching and returning astronauts, even when technical glitches have arisen. That's what spurred NASA to launch its Commercial Crew program, which was designed to facilitate the development of new American-made spacecraft. The program put private firms in competition for billions of dollars' worth of government contracts. SpaceX and Boeing came out on top, and SpaceX's spaceship passed its tests and became ready for astronauts first. Here's how NASA came to rely on the two companies to resurrect American spaceflight.SEE ALSO: 27 epic images show how SpaceX made history by flying NASA astronauts to and from the space station DON'T MISS: Telescope video captured SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship attached to space station, 250 miles above Earth NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are now the first people ever to fly in a commercial spacecraft. Both men are spaceflight veterans and were deeply involved in SpaceX's efforts to design its Crew Dragon spaceship. "This has been a quite an odyssey the last five, six, seven, eight years," Hurley said during a NASA live broadcast after the recent landing. "To be where we are now — the first crewed flight of Dragon — is just unbelievable." Crew Dragon launched into space with the two astronauts inside atop a Falcon 9 rocket on May 30. The mission, called Demo-2, was a demonstrate meant to show that the launch system and spaceship could safely transport people. The next day, the capsule docked to the International Space Station, where it stayed for two months. Aboard the space station, Behnken and Hurley conducted science experiments, routine maintenance, and a couple of spacewalks. On Saturday, Behnken and Hurley climbed back into the capsule, which they'd named Endeavour, and undocked from the space station. The next day, they survived a fiery plunge back to Earth. "It felt like we were inside of an animal," Behnken said in a briefing on Tuesday. Parachutes slowed the fall, and Endeavour landed in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 p.m. ET on Sunday, off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Recovery teams helped the astronauts out of the capsule and gave them a medical check. The men were fine but found it difficult to stand; that's normal for ISS astronauts, since their bodies become accustomed to floating in space. Prior to the Demo-2 mission, the last US rocket-and-spaceship system to carry astronauts to and from space was Atlantis, NASA's last space shuttle. It launched and landed in July 2011. After 135 shuttle missions, NASA retired the program so it could direct funds towards long-term missions to the moon and, eventually, Mars. Since then, NASA has relied on Russia's Soyuz system to ferry its astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Soyuz has been the only human-rated spacecraft that can ferry people to and from the $150 billion, football-field-size orbiting laboratory.  Russia has nearly quadrupled its prices for NASA over a decade. In 2008, a single round-trip flight for a NASA astronaut cost about $22 million; by 2018, that price had soared to about $81 million. As of late last year the price is about $85 million, according to CNN. Additionally, two recent incidents raised concerns about the reliability and safety of Soyuz rockets. In August 2018, a Soyuz began leaking air into space while attached to the space station. A small hole was found and investigated by cosmonauts. Russian authorities think the hole came from a manufacturing accident with a drill that was hastily covered up. Then that October, a Soyuz rocket failed during launch. The space capsule, which was carrying one American and one Russian, automatically jettisoned away, and they walked away uninjured. Despite these issues, the world's space agencies had no other options for getting their astronauts to and from the space station. NASA's Commercial Crew Program has been developing alternative launch systems since 2010. The competition asked private companies to build new astronaut-ready spacecraft. Once the program is complete, the agency will have doled out more than $8 billion in awards and contracts over about a decade. "We don't want to purchase, own, and operate the hardware the way we used to. We want to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit," Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said ahead of the Demo-2 landing. From dozens of hopefuls, two contenders made it through the competition: SpaceX and Boeing. Both of their spacecraft are designed to fly up to seven passengers to and from Earth's orbit. SpaceX, which Musk founded in 2002, designed the Crew Dragon, a 14,000-pound spaceship that's made to be reusable. The vehicle is SpaceX's biggest spaceflight achievement yet, but it's just the beginning of Musk's ambitions. "This is hopefully the first step on a journey towards civilization on Mars, of life becoming multiplanetary, a base on the moon, and expanding beyond Earth," he told reporters after the Demo-2 launch. Boeing, a century-old aerospace company, created the CST-100 Starliner, also a reusable capsule. It's made to land back on Earth using airbags, rather than splashing into the ocean. Before Boeing launches astronauts on the the CST-100 Starliner, it will re-do an uncrewed flight test, since the first attempt unearthed critical issues. In total, NASA selected nine astronauts to fly the Boeing and SpaceX spaceships on the demonstration missions and first official crewed missions. The group includes former space-shuttle flyers, ex-military test pilots, rookies, and — critically — four astronauts (including Behnken and Hurley) who'd been testing and providing feedback on the commercial ships for years. Before humans could fly in the new spacecraft, NASA required a robust series of test flights and demonstrations. In one such test, the Crew Dragon flew to the space station without a crew in March 2019 — making it the first commercial vehicle to ever do so. In that mission, called Demo-1, the spaceship launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, then linked up to the International Space Station for five days. The only passengers were a crash-test dummy named Ripley, 400 pounds of cargo, and a fuzzy toy Earth. Officials declared the test a complete success after the capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Bridenstine described the successful mission as "the dawn of a new era in American human spaceflight, and really in spaceflight for the entire world." But later demos hit snags. SpaceX did not pass an April 2019 test that simulated a parachute failure. The test was meant to examine what would happen if one parachute didn't deploy during a flight. SpaceX tried to simulate the situation, leaving only three parachutes to break the fall. Unfortunately, the other parachutes didn't properly deploy, either. However, the Crew Dragon parachutes eventually received approval after undergoing 27 rounds of testing. They performed as planned when Behnken and Hurley landed. William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations at the time, told Spaceflight Now that similar problems arose during Boeing's parachute tests. That same month, a Crew Dragon capsule exploded during a test-firing on the ground. NASA and SpaceX both welcomed the surprise failure. The mysterious explosion occurred as the capsule fired the large engines designed to help it escape a failing rocket. "Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test," SpaceX said on the day of the failure. Kathy Lueders, who managed the Commercial Crew Program and now leads NASA's Human Spaceflight Office, called the explosion "a huge gift for us" in terms of making the ship safer to fly. Boeing launched its Starliner capsule toward the space station for the first time in December 2019. Nobody was inside — just a mannequin named Rosie. There was also some food, Christmas presents, and other cargo for astronauts aboard the space station. But the Starliner suffered a major glitch with a clock about 31 minutes after launch, causing it to veer off-course. To save the uncrewed ship from total failure, Boeing skipped its docking with the space station — the main objective of the mission — and used the remaining propellant to stabilize the capsule's orbit and get it home. On its early return to Earth, the capsule relied on impact-absorbing airbags to land safely in the desert. A NASA safety panel revealed in February that the Starliner had also suffered a second software issue, which ground controllers patched in the middle of the test flight. Boeing and NASA officials said the error could have caused a collision between two units of the spacecraft: the crew module and the service module. The error prompted NASA to launch a larger investigation into Boeing's coding and culture.   NASA and Boeing have decided to re-do that uncrewed mission before the company launches its first astronauts. The re-do is planned for October or November, according to The Washington Post, but officials have declined to offer a timeline for the Starliner's first astronaut flight. Before they could carry people, both spaceships also had to prove they can jettison astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of a rocket-launch failure. Such failures have happened to both the Space Shuttle and Soyuz systems, so having an escape plan is essential. Boeing passed the ground test of the Starliner's abort system in November 2019. The capsule rocketed nearly a mile into the air, then parachuted back to the ground. The entire flight lasted 1.5 minutes. SpaceX demonstrated its escape system in January, by turning off one of its Falcon 9 rockets mid-flight while a Crew Dragon was perched on top. The rocket was traveling at around twice the speed of sound when SpaceX shut it down. At that moment, the Crew Dragon detached, fired its own thrusters, and sped away from the soon-to-explode rocket. The ship landed in the ocean under four giant parachutes. "It went as well as one could possibly expect," Musk said of the escape-system demonstration.     Overall, the Commercial Crew program has run years past its deadline. Boeing and SpaceX were supposed to have their systems certified by 2017, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. "Most of us are just way past ready for this to happen. It has taken a lot longer than anybody thought," Wayne Hale, a retired NASA space-shuttle program manager, told Business Insider in January. Eventually, a round-trip seat on the Crew Dragon is expected to cost about $55 million. A seat on Starliner will cost about $90 million. NASA has contracted six round-trip flights on Crew Dragon. Behnken's wife, Megan McArthur, will pilot the second one. "What we did for Bob, I think we can do an even better job for Megan," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said after the Demo-2 splashdown. NASA also plans to open the space station to tourists for $35,000 per night. Last year NASA announced it would allow two private astronauts per year to stay up to 30 days each on the space station.   Holly Secon contributed reporting. Do you have a story or inside information to share about the spaceflight industry? Send Dave Mosher an email at [email protected] or a Twitter direct message at @davemosher. More secure communication options are listed here.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley just completed a test flight of SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spaceship. The Crew Dragon survived a fiery plunge through Earth's atmosphere, deployed its parachutes, and landed in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday — a process that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called his "biggest concern" for the mission. Watch the reentry and landing of the world's first crewed commercial spaceship in the video below. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. SpaceX and NASA just accomplished a historic feat: the first-ever crewed commercial spaceflight mission. After a high-risk, fiery plunge through Earth's atmosphere, the Crew Dragon spaceship successfully deployed four parachutes to land in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, of the coast of Pensacola, Florida. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launched aboard the SpaceX-designed Crew Dragon two months prior, on May 30. The capsule then docked to the International Space Station, where it remained while Behnken and Hurley conducted experiments and spacewalks aboard the orbiting laboratory. The mission, called Demo-2, was a test to show that SpaceX is capable of taking astronauts to and from Earth's orbit. The launch went according to plan, but Sunday's landing was the mission's defining moment. From space, the Crew Dragon had to plunge through Earth's atmosphere, its heat shield deflecting and absorbing the energy of superheated plasma and enduring temperatures up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The shield successfully protected the hardware and astronauts as they fell at 25 times the speed of sound. Then came two parachute deployments. The first, at about 18,000 feet, slowed Crew Dragon's plummet from 350 mph to 119 mph. Then at about 6,000 feet, more parachutes deployed to carry the capsule gently into the ocean. "I'm not very religious, but I prayed for this one," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said during a NASA TV broadcast after the landing. SpaceX filmed the capsule as it descended to Earth. The resulting video, below, condenses the 12-minute reentry and landing process into 1 minute and 11 seconds. Tracking footage of Crew Dragon’s descent, parachute deployments and splashdown pic.twitter.com/pzbm1iXCC6 — SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 4, 2020   'It seemed to go extremely smoothly' Demo-2 was the culmination of roughly $3.1 billion in funding that SpaceX got from NASA through the agency's Commercial Crew Program — an effort to resurrect the human-spaceflight capability that NASA lost after it retired its space shuttles in 2011. The successful demonstration flight tees up six round-trips on Crew Dragon that NASA has contracted to fly its astronauts to and from the space station. Ahead of the astronauts' May launch, Musk told Aviation Week's Irene Klotz that the mission's final stages were his biggest concern. That's because of the Crew Dragon's asymmetric design, which is necessary for the emergency escape system that can jettison the capsule away from a failing rocket. Musk was concerned that the asymmetry could have caused the capsule to rotate too much, leading it to "catch the plasma in the super Draco escape thruster pods," he told Klotz. But the process went smoothly. The parachutes were also cause for concern. During a briefing before the launch, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of mission assurance, was asked what kept him up at night in regard to the Demo-2 mission. He pointed to the chutes, since their packing can't be tested until they're deployed. But after the landing, officials and astronauts remarked on how uneventful the astronaut's return flight was (except for a few surprises on the ground, such as civilian boats pulling up to the space capsule). "It did not seem like this was the first NASA SpaceX mission with astronauts on board," Michael Hopkins, a NASA astronaut who's slated to fly on SpaceX's next mission, Crew-1, said. "It seemed to go extremely smoothly." Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and CEO, said even SpaceX leadership was a bit taken aback. "I think we're surprised — minorly surprised, but obviously incredibly pleased — that this went as smoothly as it did," she said.SEE ALSO: 27 epic images show how SpaceX made history by flying NASA astronauts to and from the space station DON'T MISS: NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, whose husband just flew on SpaceX's Crew Dragon, will pilot the spaceship in the spring Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why NASA waited nearly a decade to send astronauts into space from the US
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley just completed a crucial test flight of SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spaceship. The men splashed the space capsule into the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 p.m. ET off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, following a risky plunge through Earth's atmosphere. NASA's administrator said the mission marks "the next era in human spaceflight," since the agency is now poised to purchase flights from SpaceX. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said after the mission's launch that he once doubted the company would ever see this day. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. SpaceX just achieved a feat that even CEO Elon Musk thought improbable when he founded the rocket company in 2002: flying people to and from space. On Sunday afternoon, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely careened back to Earth after a 27-million-mile mission in orbit around the planet. The men flew in SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spaceship, landing the cone-shaped capsule at 2:48 p.m. ET in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola, Florida. Ahead of the landing, the crew undocked from the $150 billion International Space Station, where they'd spent 63 days, then performed a series of maneuvers to return home to their families. The capsule handily survived a blistering 3,500-degree-Fahrenheit return through Earth's atmosphere, a high-stakes parachute deployment, and the final splashdown. Shortly after 4 p.m. ET, a SpaceX and NASA recovery crew pulled the astronauts from their toasted ship.  "Thanks for doing the most difficult part and the most important part of human spaceflight: sending us into orbit and bringing us home safely," Behnken said shortly before leaving the spaceship, which he and Hurley named Endeavour. "Thank you again for the good ship Endeavour." "It's absolutely been an honor and a pleasure to work with you, from the entire SpaceX team," a capsule communicator responded from mission control at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX privately designed, built, and operated the vehicle with about $2.7 billion in contracts from NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The money helped SpaceX create its newfound spaceflight capability and is funding about half a dozen missions — including Behnken and Hurley's demonstration flight, Demo-2, which launched on May 30. With Demo-2's completion, SpaceX has put an end to a nine-year drought of crewed spaceflight from US soil. The company also resurrected NASA's ability to reach the ISS, where the agency hopes to ramp up work to help it return humans to the moon and eventually reach Mars. The mission's end likely brings SpaceX just weeks from a NASA certification of its Crew Dragon for regular flights of astronauts — and private citizens. "We don't want to purchase, own, and operate the hardware the way we used to. We want to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit," Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said during a NASA TV broadcast ahead of the landing. He added: "This is the next era in human spaceflight, where NASA gets to be the customer. We want to be a strong customer, we want to be a great partner. But we don't want to be the only ones that are operating with humans in space." In a news briefing following the landing, officials and astronauts remarked on how uneventful the astronaut's return flight was (except for a few surprises on the ground, such as civilian boats pulling up to the space capsule). "It did not seem like this was the first NASA SpaceX mission with astronauts on board," Michael Hopkins, a NASA astronaut who's slated to fly on SpaceX's next mission, Crew-1, said. "It seemed to go extremely smoothly." Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and CEO, said even SpaceX leadership was a bit taken aback. "I think we're surprised — minorly surprised, but obviously incredibly pleased — that this went as smoothly as it did," she said. American astronauts, rockets, and spaceships launching from US soil Before Demo-2, the United States hadn't launched humans into space from American soil since July 2011, when NASA flew its final space shuttle mission. During the following nine years, NASA had to rely on Russia's Soyuz launch system to ferry its astronauts to and from the space station. But that became increasingly expensive. Over time, Russia charged more and more per round-trip ticket for each NASA astronaut. The cost rose from about $21 million in 2008 (before the shuttle was retired) to more than $90 million per seat on a planned flight for October. A seat on SpaceX's Crew Dragon, meanwhile, is projected to cost $55 million (not including NASA's $2.7 billion in funding), according to NASA's inspector general. Also, with just one to two seats for NASA astronauts aboard each Soyuz flight — compared to the space shuttle's seven — the arrangement limited American use of the ISS, which has housed as many as 13 people at once (though space-station crews are typically six people). Most concerning to mission managers, the arrangement left NASA reliant on a single launch system. That became especially worrisome when high-profile issues arose with Soyuz over the past few years, including a mysterious leak and a rocket-launch failure that forced an emergency landing. After these incidents, NASA and other space agencies had nowhere else to turn.  With SpaceX's successful Demo-2 flight — and the upcoming test flights of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spaceship — that insecure footing for US astronauts is now in the rearview mirror. "This is the culmination of a dream," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told "CBS This Morning" ahead of the mission's launch in May. "This is a dream come true. In fact, it feels surreal." In addition to giving NASA better access to the space station, having a spacecraft and launch system enables the agency to use the space station's microgravity environment to conduct more science experiments — in pharmaceuticals, materials science, astronomy, medicine, and more. "The International Space Station is a critical capability for the United States of America. Having access to it is also critical," Bridenstine said during a briefing on May 1. "We are moving forward very rapidly with this program that is so important to our nation and, in fact, to the entire world." Demo-2 brings SpaceX one step closer to the moon and Mars With the completion of Demo-2, SpaceX has also gained operational experience flying people to and from space for the first time. That's hugely important to Musk, who has big plans for SpaceX. The company plans to fly tourists into space: In February, SpaceX announced that it had sold four seats through a spaceflight tourism company called Space Adventures. Then in March, news broke that the company Axiom Space — led in part by a former ISS mission manager at NASA — had also signed a deal with SpaceX. There's even a flight of actor Tom Cruise aboard Crew Dragon in the works — part of a plan to film a movie aboard the ISS. But Musk's primary aim is to launch people around the moon, later land others on the lunar surface, then move on to establish Martian cities. His ultimate goal is to put 1 million settlers on the red planet. NASA shares some of Musk's ambitions to send humans back to the moon and eventually to Mars. Sending astronauts to the space station aboard the Crew Dragon represents a major milestone toward those goals. Bridenstine also said  that he'd eventually like to see entire commercial space stations in the future.  "The next big thing is we need commercial space stations themselves. And in order to create the market for commercial space stations, we have to have these transformational capabilities," Bridenstine said ahead of the landing. 'I doubted us, too' During a briefing following the launch of Demo-2, Business Insider asked Musk if he had a message for those who ever doubted him or the company. "To be totally frank, I doubted us, too. I thought we had maybe — when starting SpaceX — maybe had a 10% chance of reaching orbit. So to those who doubted us I was like, 'Well, I think you're probably right,'" Musk said. He added: "It took us took us four attempts just to get to orbit with Falcon 1 ... People told me this joke: How do you make a small fortune in the rocket industry? 'You start with a large one' is the punch line." Musk said SpaceX "just barely made it there," adding, "So hey, I think those doubters were — their probability assessment was correct. But fortunately, fate has smiled upon us and brought us to this day." This story has been updated with new information. It was originally published at 2:48 p.m. ET on August 2, 2020. Do you have a story or inside information to share about the spaceflight industry? Send Dave Mosher an email at [email protected] or a Twitter direct message at @davemosher. More secure communication options are listed here.SEE ALSO: Why SpaceX's astronaut mission for NASA is such a big deal for Elon Musk's rocket company and the US as a whole DON'T MISS: SpaceX is about to win a high-stakes game of capture the flag that Barack Obama started 9 years ago Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why NASA waited nearly a decade to send astronauts into space from the US
SpaceX has confirmed that it ran a static fire test of its Crew Dragon astronaut capsule launch escape system.That’s a key step that it needed to run, and one that is under especially high scrutiny because a static fire of its thrusters back in April resulted in an explosion that destroyed that spacecraft.After an investigation, SpaceX and NASA were confident that they identified and corrected the cause of that faulty test, which seems to have worked in their favor with today’s engine fire.Today’s stick fire appears to have gone much more smoothly, with SpaceX noting that it ran for the full planned duration, and that now its own engineers along with NASA teams will be reviewing the results of this test and the data it provided.So long as what these teams find from these test results is within their expected range and criteria for success, that will mean they can move on to an in-flight demonstration of the crew space system — the next and necessary step leading up to the eventual crewed flight of Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts on board.The in-flight abort test that will be the next key step for Crew Dragon will demonstrate how the SuperDraco crew escape system would behave in the unlikely event of an actual emergency during a crewed mission, albeit with a Crew Dragon spacecraft that doesn’t actually have anyone on board.
Boeing has identified the part which lead to a parachute failing to deploy during the testing of its Starliner capsule earlier this week.The company has announced that a misplaced pin was the cause of the issue.On Tuesday, Boeing performed an important launch abort test of its capsule, which is intended to eventually ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).Although the test was mainly a success, with the capsule being pushed away from the rocket as it should be and landing a mile away from the launch site, there was a snag.Only two of the three parachutes which slow the descent of the capsule opened, with the third failing to deploy.Following an investigation, Boeing announced it had discovered the cause of the parachute failing to open.
Boeing’s Starliner capsule that will eventually take astronauts into space completed a key abort test Monday when it soared for almost a mile before parachuting back into the New Mexico desert.No astronauts were on board the capsule for Monday morning’s test of the crew abort system, just a test dummy.The abort system will provide a fast getaway for the three astronauts if there's an emergency on the Florida pad or in flight.Boeing plans to launch the Starliner to the International Space Station next month without a crew.The Starliner capsule will be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.AIR FORCE’S MYSTERIOUS X-37B SPACE PLANE RETURNS TO EARTH AFTER RECORD-BREAKING 780 DAYS IN ORBIT
On Monday, Boeing will perform a key test of its Starliner crew capsule which NASA hopes will eventually ferry astronauts into orbit.The pad abort test is an important part of testing for manned launches and will be aired live on NASA TV.“The test is designed to verify that each of Starliner’s systems will function not only separately, but in concert, to protect astronauts by carrying them safely away from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff,” NASA explained in a statement.“During the test, Starliner’s four launch abort engines and several orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters will fire, pushing the spacecraft approximately 1 mile above land and 1 mile north of the test stand.”During the test, the crew module will be ejected away from the rocket and its descent will be slowed with parachutes and landing airbags.It should touch down in White Sands Missile Range, from where it will be collected and brought back to Launch Complex 32 to be analyzed and evaluated.
SpaceX is set to perform an important test on its Crew Dragon capsule, which will eventually carry astronauts to the International Space Station, following an explosive setback earlier this year.As reported by CNBC, the company will conduct a “static fire” test on the capsule next week.The test will ensure that when the capsule’s emergency engines fire, everything operates as planned.To perform the test, the capsule will be strapped to the ground while it fires its SuperDraco emergency engines.The high-thrust SuperDraco engines use what is called hypergolic propellant, which has two components that spontaneously ignite when they come into contact.These engines form part of the launch abort system, an important part of any manned capsule, which provides a way for the crew to separate from the capsule in the event of an emergency during launch.
SpaceX’s facility at Cape Canaveral just received a crucial new delivery: a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule that it will be using for an upcoming in-flight abort test.This test, which will demonstrate the spacecraft and launch system’s ability to abort the launch mid-flight in case of any emergencies, is an important and necessary step before SpaceX can fly Crew Dragon with any actual people on board.This test will replicate a “worst-case scenario” of sorts, by staging a crew capsule separation at the point of “Max Q,” which is the part of the launch where the rocket is exposed to the most severe atmospheric forces prior to making it to space.At this point during the abort test, the Crew Dragon will show that it can detach from the Falcon 9 rocket and propel itself away to a safe distance in order to protect the astronauts on board.Back in 2015, SpaceX completed the lead-up to this, which was a pad abort test that demonstrated the escape process in case the mission needs to be canceled earlier, before the spacecraft has left the launch pad.Earlier this year, SpaceX was conducting an abort test for its SuperDraco rocket engine for Crew Dragon when an error caused an explosion that destroyed the capsule.
Disneyland’s Star Wars Hotel near Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was revealed in part by Disney recently as the absolute most ultimate Star Wars experience.For that, one would assume the cost per-person and per-night for a stay at this hotel would be… pretty substantial.“This groundbreaking experience is unlike any resort experience you’ve ever seen,” said the Disney description of the upcoming Star Wars hotel.“From the moment you board your launch pod, it’s a fully-immersive, multi-day Star Wars adventure aboard a luxury starship complete with high-end dining, space-view cabins and all of the exciting action you would expect from an authentic Star Wars experience.” It seems like Disney’s creating something with the feel of Jurassic Park, and that they, too, have ‘spared no expense.’Concept art shows the space capsule inside which patrons will travel to the starship (the hotel) where they’ll stay.This starship is relatively large, according to official Lucasfilm documentation (in several novels and guides), coming in at around twice the length of a Corellian Corvette.
Let’s try this again: SpaceX is looking to launch its 18th International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission on Thursday at 6:01 PM ET (3:01 PM PT), a day after it tried to do so a first time.The initial attempt was scrubbed at the last minute due to weather conditions on the launch range in Florida at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but there’s a backup window today so Elon’s rocket company will try again.The stream above will begin about 15 minutes beforehand.CRS-18 will send a Dragon cargo capsule with 5,000 lbs of experiment materials, supplies and other cargo including a new automated docking sleeve to the ISS.This mission is one of the last in SpaceX’s current ISS resupply contract, which covers 20 total engagements – but NASA and SpaceX essentially re-upped for a second batch through 2024 as part of a new contract signed in 2016.The Dragon cargo craft used on this mission has actually flown two previous ISS resupply missions, and will be the first to manage a third should this trip go as planned.
The crew capsule which will carry American astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis project has been completed.The completion of the Artemis 1 capsule was announced by Vice President Mike Pence during a speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the historic Apollo moon landing mission.Fifty years after successfully landing a man on the moon, NASA is hoping to recreate this feat.But this time, at least one of the crew members will be a woman.NASA has announced that this capsule will carry the “first woman on the moon.”“Similar to the 1960s, we too have an opportunity to take a giant leap forward for all of humanity,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
SpaceX is currently developing its Crew Dragon capsule to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, though there have been some challenges along the way, such as in April, when a capsule exploded during testing due to a leaky valve.But an unmanned test flight in March went off without a hitch, landing safely in the ocean off the Florida coast.Now, a new video shows the parachute systems for the capsule being tested.SpaceX describes it as “the most advanced spacecraft parachute recovery system in the world.” So far, the system has been tested successfully 25 times under different deployment conditions.The tests shown in the video include deployment from a C-130 Airplane at an altitude of 10,000 to 25,000 feet, from a Skycrane Helicopter at an altitude of 8,000 to 12,000 feet, and from a high-altitude balloon at an altitude of more than 50,000 feet.In each case, the capsule is carried to the required altitude by the deployment vehicle, attached by wires.
In short, it was a leak and a dodgy valve wot dunnit.The incident happened at 18:13 UTC on 20 April while SpaceX was conducting static fire engine tests atop a test stand at the company's Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.The infamous (and subsequently pulled) video showed the capsule exploding as the company prepared to fire the eight SuperDraco thrusters for a final time during the test.The SuperDracos are designed to push the spacecraft away from a failing Falcon 9 and are only to be used in the event of a launch escape scenario.The results of the investigation demonstrate just how fortunate SpaceX has been to catch the problem before a crew was shoved into the capsule.A leaking component allowed liquid oxidiser (nitrogen tetroxide) to find its way into high-pressure helium tubes during ground processing.
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On Saturday, SpaceX tested the emergency escape rocket system for its new human-capable Crew Dragon spacecraft, but an "anomaly" occurred during the test.On Sunday, an unverified video on Twitter claimed to show the space capsule exploding during the test.A test of the emergency escape system for SpaceX's new spacecraft designed to carry NASA astronauts into orbit went awry on Saturday, and an unverified video making the rounds on Twitter claims to show just how bad the anomaly was.On Saturday afternoon, SpaceX attempted a static-fire test of the emergency abort system on its new Crew Dragon space capsule, which is intended for use by NASA's Commercial Crew program to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.Saturday's test, however, did not go as planned.According to a statement from SpaceX:
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