On Sunday, four astronauts were prepared for the launch of the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Dragon “Resilience” crew, which the United States hopes will have several regular missions after a successful test flight in the spring.
Three Americans – Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker – and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi will depart Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday at 19:27 (0027 GMT Monday).
In May, SpaceX completed a demonstration mission, showing that it could take astronauts to the ISS and return them safely, spending nearly a decade in Russia aboard its Soyuz rocket. The dependence of can be eliminated.
“The story made this time around is the launch of what we call an operational flight to the International Space Station,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstein told reporters on Friday.
The launch will feature Vice President Mike Pence and fellow woman Karen Pence.
The crew will dock at their destination around 11:00 p.m. Monday (04:00 GMT Tuesday), boarding two Russian stations and one American and remaining six months.
Earlier this week, Crew Dragon became the first spacecraft to be certified by NASA since the Space Shuttle nearly 40 years ago.
It is a capsule similar in size to the spacecraft that preceded the space shuttle, and its launch vehicle is a reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
At the end of their mission, Crew Drew split the parachute in the water, much like in the Apollo days.
NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing after halting the Checker Space Shuttle program in 2011, which failed in its primary goals of making space travel affordable and safe.
The agency is said to have spent more than $ 8 billion on the commercial crew program by 2024, in the hopes that the private sector can support NASA’s “low earth orbit” needs, so it should concentrate on the missions back to the moon. Was released for. Then on March.
SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, has made the leap to its former rival, Boeing, whose program has raged after a failed test of its unmatched Starliner last year.
SpaceX’s success won’t mean the United States will completely stop the race with Russia, Bridenstein said.
“We want a seat swap, where American astronauts can fly on Russian Soyuz rockets and the Russian cosmonaut can fly on commercial crew vehicles,” he said, stating that it was necessary that either Le program was down for the duration.
However, the reality is that the US-Russian space relationship, one of the few bright spots in their bilateral relationship, has turned disastrous in recent years and many remain uncertain.
Russia has said it will not participate in the Artemis Return to the Moon program in 2024, a NASA-led mission allegedly too focused on the United States.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency, has also repeatedly mocked SpaceX’s technology, and this summer Roskosmos announced the construction of a rocket that overtakes Musk.
He told a state news agency that he was not happy with the Crew Dragon’s landing in the water, calling it “pretty rough” and that his agency was developing a methane rocket that would be 100 reusable times.
But the fact that a national space agency is traveling to compare itself to a company is certainly a validation of NASA’s public-private strategy.
The emergence of SpaceX also deprived Raskosmos of a valuable revenue stream.
Last year, the cost of round-trip travel on Russian rockets increased by about $ 85 million per astronaut.
Presidential changes are always a tough time for NASA, and Joe Biden’s rise in January should make no difference.
The agency has yet to receive tens of billions of dollars from Congress needed to finalize the Artemis program.
Bridenstein announced he would step down, to help the new president set his space exploration goals.
So far, Biden has not commented on the 2024 schedule.
Documents from the Democratic Party say they support NASA’s aspirations to the Moon and Mars, but at the same time highlight the agency’s Earth Sciences Division to better understand how climate change is affecting our planet.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)