The launch of Expedition 58 may be one of the last for American astronauts aboard Russian Soyuz rockets. On December…
The launch of Expedition 58 may be one of the last for American astronauts aboard Russian Soyuz rockets.
On December 3, NASA astronaut Anne McClain is expected to take his first spacecraft aboard Soyuz, as every American astronaut has done since 2011. But from next year, American astronauts will climb aboard commercial crew manufactured and launched from the United States.
It has been a long trip for NASA, which has run a crew program to complete despite several delays) since the space shuttle program retired in 2011. It happened just after construction at the International Space Station completed. Since then, NASA has had no way of flying astronauts in space from the United States. Instead, all spacecraft astronauts must fly from remote Baikonur, Kazakhstan, at prices now over $ 70 million. [A Baikonur Soyuz Launch During Cold War]
The Russian Soyuz Spacecraft and the Soyuz rocket have each worked well to be sure. The system is well regarded for its ability to launch in almost anything, something that the space shuttle could not do. The only eight-year Soyuz flight was interrupted in October this year, when two crew members aboard Expedition 57 returned safely after a few minutes in flight. (A deformed sensor in the rocket caused the break, and the Russian space organization Roscosmos quickly approved flights to resume.)
But Americans have been eager to see flights again on their own, not only because of national pride but also because of the potential that it will bring to industry across the country.
The first commercial crew test is scheduled for January 7th when an unencrypted version of SpaceX’s human-rated Dragon Spacecraft will lift a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s space coast, near Orlando. It is the same area where all US space missions with astronauts, including space shuttle and Apollo mission, started in 1
961. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner will run its first troubled flight later in 2019.
SpaceX, in particular, has industrial attention because the company is known as a disturbing force. Hawthorne, the California-based company, was among the first companies to develop and land reusable first raket stages, an unthinkable achievement a decade ago. The company was also the first to run commercial freight flights to the space station, starting in 2012.
SpaceX is already changing how launch launches are being done, and it can do the same for human launches, says a representative of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. It is a group of more than 80 companies working together to build space economy, including reducing the cost of access to orbital opportunities.
“We anticipate the story will repeat”, Federal Director Tommy Sanford, told Space.com in an email. “Just like last time, a cheap and regular and reliable launcher, like SpaceX, came into the market, costs decreased, asset growth increased and a whole new economic ecosystem of activity – cubes – occurred. We anticipate [that] A similar pattern will be occur when commercial crew comes online, which will lead to the birth of new ideas and opportunities that previously had not been possible. “
Addition of commercial crew to the mix of human launch systems will once again open up competition and innovation, “said Rich Cooper, Space Deputy Vice President for Strategic Communications and Outreach. It will not only happen between Boeing and SpaceX, but also among the suppliers and partners fleet that helps the two US companies to get their spacecraft from the ground.
“Soyuz is not the only tool in town,” Cooper said to Space.com. “It’s not the only resource we can knock on. The entire Boeing-SpaceX commercial crew effortlessly brings the best of all worlds, all options.” Alternatives provide creativity, advantage and potential. So that’s really exciting about this. “
Cooper also pointed to a reigniting of national pride, because the US finally resumes its role of sending astronauts to space – a state that the country had with some gaps between 1961 and 2011. The current distance is the longest time the Americans has been expected to enter space from US soil since the beginning of space age.
From 1961 to 1966, flights performed at least annually with spacecraft from one or other program: Mercury-single capsule or Gemini two-passenger vessels practicing docking and spacecraft. The first Apollo mission was to be abolished in 1967 to train for the moonwork, but after the fatal Apollo 1 fire, the first crew traffic was driven back to 1968. Apollo missions ran often between 1968 and 1972.
U.S. The astronauts flew into space three times 1973 for Skylab Space Station missions; Then the next American crew joined a Soviet mission for Apollo-Soyuz in 1975. After it was a six-year gap until the space shuttle was ready for flight in 1981. The flights were interrupted for two years each after Challenger and Columbia spacecraft fatalities in 1986 and 2003. But most of the time commuter spacecraft in space and back again between 1981 and 2011.
In 2010, just as the space shuttle program disappeared, NASA began offering money to companies interested in developing commercial passenger cars. SpaceX and Boeing were chosen in 2014. The development of commercial crew vehicles would not take so long, but budget cuts and technical complexities pushed the launch of the program back several years, with a possible crew solution scheduled for 2019 or 2020.
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