Wednesday November 11, 2020
The US is back in manned space travel with SpaceX. Five months after the first launch on the ISS, NASA is now sending four astronauts to the International Space Station on Saturday. This will probably end the dependence on Russia.
Six months after its historic flight to the International Space Station (ISS), the US company SpaceX is sending a manned rocket led by Tesla founder Elon Musk on a six-month routine mission into space. The “Crew Dragon” capsule will take off from the Kennedy Space Center in the direction of the ISS on Saturday evening, announced the US space agency Nasa. The three NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker as well as the Japanese Soichi Noguchi will be on board.
NASA declared the Crew Dragon capsule to be safe. “I am extremely proud to be able to say that we are returning to a regular manned space flight with an American rocket and an American spaceship that takes off from American soil,” said NASA chief Jim Bridenstine.
The mission is scheduled to start on Saturday at 7.49 p.m. local time (Sunday 01.49 p.m. CET). Eight hours later, the spaceship should reach its destination. The four astronauts will then stay on the ISS for six months.
Most recently dependent on Russia
SpaceX’s director of manned space flights, Benji Reed, said his company will organize a total of seven manned or cargo missions for NASA over the next 15 months. From December onwards there will be “a constant presence of SpaceX ‘Dragons’ in orbit”. 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, 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.