Saturday November 14th 2020
At the end of May, the US company SpaceX from Tesla founder Musk successfully sent two US astronauts on a mission to the ISS for the first time. With the second manned flight of the spaceship “Crew Dragon”, the company wants to position itself as market leader. But there are problems.
NASA and SpaceX have postponed the second manned launch of their space shuttle to the International Space Station. Instead of the night on Sunday, the rocket of the private space company including the “Crew Dragon” capsule will now fly four astronauts to the ISS early Monday morning (1.27 a.m. CET), as the head of the US space agency, Jim Bridenstine, announced on Twitter. Bridenstine cited too strong winds as the reason.
The “Crew Dragon” is to take off from the spaceport Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida with the aid of a “Falcon 9” rocket and dock at the ISS a few hours later. The NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker as well as the Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will stay on board the space station for six months. The NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and her Russian colleagues Sergej Ryschikow and Sergej Kud-Swertschkow are currently there.
The newly arriving crew – “Crew-1” – is the first to be officially flown by the “Crew Dragon” to the ISS after a manned test in spring was successful. The two US astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley flew to the ISS during this test in May and returned in August.
In the past few years, US astronauts have relied on Russian rockets to get to the ISS. Nasa stopped its shuttle program nine years ago because of high costs and after two accidents. In order to regain independence from Russia, the US government under Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama commissioned SpaceX and the aviation giant Boeing to build space shuttles. The “Starliner” capsule from Boeing is still in the test phase and is not expected to be ready before next year. For SpaceX, the now planned space flight is therefore also an opportunity to position itself as the US market leader in space travel. At the end of May, the company successfully sent two US astronauts on a two-month mission to the ISS for the first time.