On a recent mission to space, called the Crew Demo-2 mission, two American astronauts were sent to the International Space Station on 31st may, 2020. The International Space Station is the only laboratory stationed in space. The event can be regarded as a milestone in the history of space science. This is the first ever human space flight performed by collaborating with a private company SpaceX. The two American astronauts are Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley . The duo flew to the ISS onboard a spaceship called Crew Dragon built by SpaceX.
The Crew Dragon Spacecraft
The Crew Dragon is the spaceship used for the mission. It is also referred as Crew Demo-2 , Dragon Crew Demo-2 or Crew Dragon Demo-2 . The spacecraft was operated by National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) and SpaceX. It is the first crewed orbital flight ever operated by a commercial provider. The rocket used in the Demo-2 mission is Falcon 9 Block 5(B1058).
The mission Demo-2
The Demo-2 mission was a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It is named as Demo-2 mission because the mission was actually a flight test whether SpaceX’s crew transportation system can be used to ferry crew to and from the ISS. The mission to International Space Station(ISS) using the Crew Dragon Spacecraft was accomplished from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were the crew members in the spaceship. Kjell Lindgren was the sole crew member who worked as a backup crew. He was backing up both Hurley and Behnken.
The launching of the mission was attempted on 27th of May 2020 but it was aborted due to bad weather caused by Tropical storm Bertha in Florida. The mission was reattempted on May 30, 2020. After the lift off happened, it took 19 hours from the space centre to reach the ISS. The spacecraft docked successfully on the Harmony module of the ISS on 31st may, 2020 at 10.16 AM. The historical event was witnessed by US president Donald Trump and Vice President of US Mike Pence.
The Rocket Carrying the spacecraft Crew Demo-2
The Rocket Carrying the spacecraft Crew Demo-2 is known as Falcon 9. It’s name is derived from the fictional star wars spaceship the Millenium Falcon. Besides the space capsule the rocket is also developed by SpaceX. It is powered by Merlin engines. The rocket is a patially reusable two-stage-to-orbit medium lift vehicle. Cryogenic liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene(RP-1) are used as fuel to propel it.
The Spacesuit used in Crew Demo-2 mission
The spacesuit used in Crew Demo-2 mission is very unique. The speciality of the spacesuit lies in the fact that it is designed by Hollywood costume designer, Jose Fernandez. He has worked in some Hollywood films like Batman versus Superman, The Avengers, X-Men II and The Fantastic Four among several others.
Astronaut Douglas Hurley
Douglas Gerald Hurley is the commander of Crew Dragon Demo-2. He is an American engineer and former NASA Marine corps pilot. Prior to this mission he accomplished several feat. He piloted space shuttle missions STS-127 and STS-135. This is the third time he is launched into space.
Astronaut Robert Behnken
Robert Louis Behnken joined NASA in the year 2000. He holds a Ph.D in mechanical engineering. Behnken is an Astronaut and Engineer. Before the Crew Demo-2 mission he flew aboard Space Shuttle missions STS-123 and STS-130 as a mission specialist. In his record, he accumulated 708 hours of living in space which also includes 37 hours of spacewalk time.
Astronaut Kjell Lindgren
Kjell Norwood Lindgren is an astronaut of NASA. He was launched to the ISS as part of Expedition 44/45 on 22 July, 2015. Lindgren has a doctorate of medicine from the University of Colororado. He worked as the backup crew in the Crew Demo-2 mission.
SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation service private company. It’s headquarter is in Hawthorne, California. Elon Musk founded the company in 2002. His objective was to develop a space company that can reduce the space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. This is for the first time it worked successfully in the Crew Demo-2 mission in collaboration with NASA.
The Crew Demo-2 mission has started a new era in space exploration. It is worth mentioning that the mission succeeded to attract the global population’s attraction not due to any technological achievement but only because the agency facilitating the mission is a private company. This is for the first time that astronauts of NASA are stationed in the ISS using a spaceship built and launched by a private company.