If you’re unaware of what SpaceX is, it’s an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation service founded by Elon Musk. According to the website, the company’s goal is to enable people to live on other planets. Elon Musk is known for being heavily invested in technological advancements, so it might come to no surprise that he founded a company like SpaceX.
The most recent event involves the Falcon 9 rocket. This spacecraft was designed to reduce the cost of access to space and allow humans to live on other planets. The Falcon 9 has made multiple trips to space delivery and returning cargo but is now preparing to carry humans. On Jan. 19, 2020 at 10:30 a.m., the Falcon 9 was sent off into the sky and then purposefully exploded in less than 10 minutes. According to Space.com, this was the last major hurdle needed before Crew Dragon could bring astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
The rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center and eventually landed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. SpaceX utilized the maximum aerodynamic pressure, or one of the most difficult moments in flight, to trigger the explosion. There were no passengers on this planned explosion, as the plan was just to make sure the abort system would work correctly. In just a little over 80 seconds, the capsule released from the rocket and the parachutes successfully opened within five minutes. According to the plan SpaceX had, it seems that the explosion test was successful. Although they were successful in this test, there is still much more analysis and testing they have to go through to prove they can bring humans to space by the end of this year. Seeing that all the testing continues to go in favor of SpaceX and its spacecraft, NASA will be able to clear them to carry humans on board.
There are currently two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who are expected to go. They would be sent to the International Space Station for two weeks on a test mission. As Behnken and Hurley prepare themselves for this historical mission, Hurley stated that it has been “an incredible experience.” This test mission is to be called Demo-2 and may take place anywhere from early April to the end of June. In an interview with a room of reporters at the Kennedy Space Center, Elon Musk stated “the hardware necessary for the first crewed launch, we believe, will be ready by the end of February. However, there’s still a lot of work once the hardware is ready to cross-check everything.”
According to NASA, their Commercial Crew Program is actively working to get space launches back onto American soil. It has been over eight years in the United States since there was a launch into space with human passengers. If SpaceX and NASA can pull this off, they are sure to make history. NASA believes it could provide expanded utility, better research opportunities and promote a better economy.