On Saturday, May 30, 2020, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts into space. After a 19-hour journey, the astronauts aboard the spaceship went on to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. This is the first time since 2011 that a manned space mission was launched from American soil.
Here’s everything you need to know about this historic mission and why it’s the start of a new era in space travel.
1. This is the first time a private company has launched humans into space. All previous space missions were executed by government organisations (like NASA themselves).
2. The first launch of the mission was scheduled for May 27 but was postponed due to bad weather.
3. This mission’s official name is Demo-2 because it is still being treated as a “test flight”.
4. SpaceX will be charging NASA on a seat basis for the astronauts being ferried to space. Similar to how aeroplane seat charges work.
5. Both the rocket (named Falcon 9) and the spaceship (named Crew Dragon) in this mission were built by SpaceX.
6. The Crew Dragon doesn’t have any buttons or switches like spaceships that we normally know of. Everything on the Crew Dragon is operated using a touch screen.
7. The astronauts in the mission took a shiny dinosaur toy with them in the spacecraft. The toy acted as a “zero-g indicator”. When the toy starts floating, it is an indication that the astronauts have reached zero gravity regions.
8. The rocket Falcon 9 that launched the spaceship in the mission has already come back to earth safely. This will help SpaceX save costs by reusing the same rocket for future missions.
9. Kanika Gakhar, a 24-year-old Indian-born aerospace engineer pursuing her degree from MIT, was part of the team that built the landing legs for Falcon 9!
10. Next in the pipeline, SpaceX is planning on cargo missions (sending goods into space) and satellite missions too.
We’re standing at the cusp of history where we may be able to travel to space like how we travel to different cities and countries via an aeroplane. If you could buy a ticket from SpaceX for a trip to space, which cosmic destination would you go to?
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