The human race is no stranger to space explorations—orbiting the earth, sending rovers to Mars, and even landing and walking on the moon! In July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history when they successfully walked on the surface of the earth’s moon and planted the United States flag on it. And 51 years later, another space mission has made history.
Just two days ago, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley returned to earth after their two-month mission to the International Space Station. This mission is historic because the two astronauts were brought to and from outer space by the Crew Dragon Spacecraft—a spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX.
This is the first time that humans were brought to orbit by a commercially-developed spacecraft and is also the first spaceflight with astronauts since 2011 when the US Space Shuttle program was retired. (Read: 5 Filipinos Who Made Names in NASA and Space-Related Fields)
SpaceX Crew Dragon
The mission was a test flight for the SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft, its ground systems, Falcon 9 rocket, and SpaceX’s operations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to determine whether or not SpaceX will be certified to carry humans for regular spaceflights. (Read: NASA teams up with Europe, Japan to find solutions to COVID-19)
Elon Musk, the CEO and chief engineer of SpaceX, was emotional when he met with the astronauts saying, “[T]his is the result of an incredible, incredible amount of work from people at SpaceX, people at NASA. This has been 18 years to finally fly.” The 18 years he’s referring to are the years that SpaceX has been up and running, bringing satellites to orbit, but not humans.
The mission comes after SpaceX signed a deal with NASA worth $2.4 billion for the rocket company to build space vehicles for them in 2014, but was pushed back for quite some time. NASA signed a similar agreement worth $4.2 billion with Boeing, but SpaceX was the first one to provide NASA with a vehicle.
While in orbit for their #LaunchAmerica mission, NASA Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley captured stunning views of our home planet Earth. Take a look: https://go.nasa.gov/2Pt04st
Posted by NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Saturday, August 1, 2020
The SpaceX Crew Dragon was launched on May 30 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and 19 hours later, on May 31, the team successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts Behnken and Hurley will be discussing their recently concluded mission to the ISS on Wednesday, August 5, 4:30 AM Philippine Time. It will be streamed on the NASA website live.