This May, SpaceX will attempt to be the first private company to transport humans into orbit. The milestone event is historic on many aspects for both SpaceX and NASA.
The mission, title Demo-2 will take 2 astronauts NASA's Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the International Space Station.
The first launch date was set at 27 May, however due to unforeseen weather conditions in the flight path, the mission had to be aborted 17 minutes before liftoff. The net scheduled date for “Launch America” as it is being dubbed, is Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT
What The SpaceX Mission Is All About?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is attempting its first-ever crewed rocket launch. The mission will launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Merritt Island, Florida.
The mission was expected to take place 4:33 pm Eastern Time on 27 May. However, back up launch times on Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 pm ET and Sunday, May 31 at 3:00 pm have also been scheduled in case of unforeseen circumstances. They will now be used to attempt the launch after the first one had to be aborted.
The spacecraft used will be the SpaceX built Crew Dragon, which NASA funded. It will take Crew Dragon around 19 hours to reach the International Space Station after launch.
After reaching the ISS, the spacecraft will dock there for 1-4 months. The two astronauts part of the launch will work like normal astronauts for the duration of their time there. Once the next ISS mission, the Crew-1 is ready, the astronauts may most likely come back.
Why Demo-2 Is Important For Everyone
While the mission itself seems a routine one to the casual viewers, it holds much more significance for both SpaceX and the United States.
A successful mission will give SpaceX the street cred needs, with it representing the core value of the company. If successful, this will be the first time any private space transport company has been able to deliver astronauts into orbit and the ISS. Also, by proving its mettle, it will open up a variety of new opportunities for SpaceX when it comes to manned space travel.
The mission is strategically important for the US and NASA as well. If SpaceX manages to prove that it can transport humans safely and successively, it will provide a great alternative to the country. After NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, it has been paying Russia to take its people to the ISS. However, the success of Demo-2 will mean that the US may no longer have to do that. Also, SpaceX will provide a much cheaper alternative for the same, as Elon Musk’s company can do it for $55 million per seat as compared to Russia’s $80 million.
Can You Watch The Space Launch?
For some lucky viewers in the UK and Europe, they may also be able to see the spacecraft. Crew Dragon is expected to fly past the moon somewhere between 20-30 minutes after launch and may be visible as a tiny dot moving across the sky.