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SpaceX Demo-2: Paving towards Universal Tourism

Shubham Sharma

One of the most awaited International space project took a flight at early morning of 31 May 2020. The project Demo – 2 produced by SpaceX along with NASA has been launched at 12:52 a.m. IST on 31 May. The launch took place from Kennedy Space Center, USA in the presence of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX is a private space services and manufacturing company owned by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla. Founded in 2002, with a project named Mars Oasis the company aims at reducing space transportation expenses and enabling colonization at Mars. When initially established, the company became a matter of humour die to its beyond the science ambitions. Thus started its operations from a warehouse in California.

How SpaceX became an alternative

The company gained its first success when it launched its first liquid propellant rocket Falcon1 in 2008. Further, the launch of spacecraft Dragon in 2010 made the company come into the eyes of NASA. The American Space Agency was actually looking for some space agencies to propose their project launches. This was because NASA anymore didn’t have their own spacecraft system to send humans into space since 2011. The last one sent was STS -135 under Space Shuttle Program. Since then NASA is using Russian Soyuz spacecraft for their human involving project launches. These Russian crafts charge a lot of hefty amounts for the same, around $80 million per astronaut. So, NASA started looking for private-public partnership methodology and in the series joined hands with SpaceX. Till now(before Demo -2 expedition), SpaceX has sent 20 cargo missions to ISS, but never a crewed one.

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NASA – SpaceX ties : Moving one step ahead

Stepping towards founder Elon Musk’s footsteps, which aims at sending the cheapest mission to Mars with a cost of $1100/pound, the company headed towards the goal in 2016. Musk himself made an announcement at International Astronautical Congress that his company will send the astronauts by 2025 to Mars and thus invited proposals for the name of the vehicle for the same. NASA funded SpaceX for the same with $3.1 billion. In April 2016, SpaceX successfully conducted vertical landing of Falcon 9, an orbital rocket on an ocean drone ship. A reusable gumdrop shape capsule namely Crew Dragon was used for this purpose. Further trials and Crew Dragon Demo -1(without Crew) was successfully conducted in mid-2019. For the final action that is Demo -2, two veteran astronauts corps, Robert L.Behnken(49) and Douglas Hurley(53) were selected along with a backup astronaut.

Demo -2 is an end to end 19-hour test flight towards International Space Station to validate transportation systems of SpaceX for certified commercial fights.The flight was previously scheduled for the journey on 27 May 2020, but due to unfavourable climatic conditions it was withdrawn 16:53 minutes before the launch. The next proposed date was 31st May 2020(India), with a 50% favourable climatic conditions. Heeding the risk potential, the agencies were condemned to safely execute the mission this time at any cost. So, the propulsion finally took place at 13:22 on 30 May 2020(US) with Falcon Rocket -9. The orbital journey is currently under live-stream by NASA and SpaceX both at their official handles.

Future extents

Undoubtedly, the new mission is a joyous and cheerful for the international space community. This will not only create future prospects for innovative missions, but will also find scope for life on other heavenly bodies. Moreover, a Milky Way Tourism is not far.

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