April 24, 2020

Americans on American Rockets! Coming in May!

A SpaceX Dragon Ready for Launch (Credit SaveMannedSpace.com)
At last, American astronauts will return to the International Space Station on American rockets for the first time since 2011. SpaceX has scheduled their first crewed test launch for May 27, from the historic Apollo 11 launch complex 39-A, in their new Crew Dragon spacecraft.

A Falcon 9 Preparing
for Launch
The mission will carry two veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, both of whom flew on shuttle flights, and they are expected to stay on ISS for two or more months. This will be the final test launch, and following this, SpaceX and soon, Boeing will do regular crew launches with a full crew to the space station.

This "Demo-2" mission will be the final major step before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station.

Once operational, there will often be a Russian or international partner aboard our crew launches, as well as an American on some Soyuz launches. Also, there will often be four or more American and partner astronauts aboard ISS, raising the full crew to possibly seven or eight.

Additionally, NASA will allow private individuals to buy a seat on NASA launches, kicking off a new era of commercial space travel. Expect wealthy individuals to buy seats and some weeks aboard ISS, as well as astronauts from countries unable to afford a space program of their own, who would carry out experiments in space. NASA recently awarded a contract to build a crew habitat module for ISS, to allow several commercial crew to stay onboard and out of the way of the scientific spaces on ISS.