Featured Image Source: SpaceX / NASA
SpaceX prepares for an active rocket launch manifest this month. It all initiates with a deployment of another cluster of Starlink satellites next week, on May 18th, followed by SpaceX’s first manned flight scheduled for May 27th. The mission is set make history because the United States has not launched astronauts aboard American-made spacecraft from American soil since 2011, when the Space Shuttle fleet was grounded. SpaceX will return human spaceflight capabilities to NASA after nearly a decade!
Offering Starlink broadband internet globally is SpaceX’s plan to further fund its space program. Starlink customers would be supporting future missions to the moon and Mars. As of today, about 420 Starlink satellites are orbiting Earth. SpaceX will conduct its eighth Starlink mission on May 18th at 3:09 a.m. Eastern Time. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket will deploy another batch of 60 internet-beaming satellites into low Earth orbit, from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It will be the rocket’s first-stage fifth flight. The company’s goal is to fly a particular rocket booster ten times. Rocket reusability is a huge achievement by SpaceX. To recover rockets, engineers developed Falcon 9 with the capability to return from space to conduct a vertical landing on autonomous drone ships at sea. During next week’s Starlink-7 mission, SpaceX will attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first-stage booster a fifth time by landing it on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship.
DEMO-2 SPACEX'S FIRST CREWED MISSION
Approximately ten days after deploying Starlink, SpaceX will conduct its most important mission –launching humans to orbit. SpaceX’s first crewed flight is referred to Demo-2, it is really a demonstration mission to assess if the Crew Dragon spacecraft can safely and reliably launch NASA Astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The two astronauts who will launch aboard Crew Dragon are NASA Astronaut Robert Behnken and Astronauts Douglas Hurley. Both, are veteran pilots and have previously conducted two Space Shuttle flights to the orbiting laboratory. Over the course of around six years, Behnken and Hurley have worked with SpaceX to design a spacecraft that will fit astronauts needs in space. As pilots, they offered great insight towards developing software and hardware that could reliably be used in flight.
They collaborated with SpaceX to design interior controls and display features in the Dragon spacecraft, "Every display and every procedure that is presented to crews in the future is going to have multiple items...that are our inputs," Behnken shared. “It was challenging for us and for them at first to work through those different design issues, but we got to a point where the vehicle, from the manual flying standpoint with the touchscreen, flies very well,” Hurley added.
Demo-2 mission is scheduled for May 27th at 4:32 p.m. Eastern Time. A new Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from historic Launch Pad 39A from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the same launch pad astronauts launched from during the Apollo moon missions. SpaceX’s first crewed flight is expected to bring back the excitement America felt when astronauts launched from the United States.
Good Luck to SpaceX and NASA!