NASA Astronauts Land For First Time in Nine Years

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft take off from the Kennedy Space Center to the Initial orbital spaceflight out of U.S. soil since 2011. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II / Spaceflight NowTwo veteran NASA astronauts rocketed from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday to start a test flight of a new business spaceship designed, constructed and owned by SpaceX.
The long-awaited return of human spaceflight to the Florida spaceport indicated only the fifth time in U.S. history which astronauts flew into orbit on a new kind of spacecraft, and the first time since the inaugural space shuttle launch in 1981.

A launch effort Wednesday was canceled due to the danger of lightning, and weather threatened Saturday’s countdown.

Hurley and Behnken put at the crew quarters of NASA on their white pressure suits Saturday, then rode a Tesla Model X car to pad 39A several miles off. After the astronauts arrived in the historic seaside launch complex — the passing point for all of NASA’s Apollo moon landing missions, and the first and last space shuttle flights — they rode an elevator the tower up and walked across a 50-foot (15-meter) access heat to plank the Crew Dragon capsule.
A SpaceX engineers sporting jumpsuits and masks helped Behnken and Hurley in their chairs shut the Dragon’s hatch and evacuated the launching pad before the Falcon 9 was fueled for liftoff.

Following the stage engine shut down, the Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9 separated. Cameras mounted out the rocket and within the Dragon spacecraft beamed down live views across the rise into orbit, including video from within the cockpit.
As they soared into space, the imagery revealed Behnken and Hurley within their flight suits. In eye-level, a three-panel display that is touchscreen let the astronauts understand where they were during ascent.

View the Crew Dragon using Bob Behnken and astronauts Doug Hurley aboard and the Falcon 9 upper platform different. Follow our live policy: https://t.co/1DF5tRjUzj pic.twitter.com/HzddQvw6oh
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) May 30, 2020

Thousands of spectators lined roadways in communities that were neighboring to watch the launch. The audiences allowed on NASA land were smaller, with limitations on the number of media representatives and VIPs current to see the crew launching that is historic.
Vice President Mike Pence and president Donald Trump attended the launching, later 24, and comments were given by Trump inside NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.
The successful launching Saturday was a landmark for NASA, together with the restoration of crew access to low Earth orbit out of U.S. land. The nine-year gap as the last shuttle mission in 2011 was the longest period of time because the first U.S. human spaceflight in 1961 which NASA didn’t have a means to send crews into space on domestic rockets.
Hurley, a retired Marine Corps colonel who hails from Upstate New York, is the spacecraft commander on the Crew Dragon test flight, designated. His responsibilities include launching, landing and recovery operations.
Behnken is the operations commander for its Demo-2 test flight. The 49-year-old Missouri native will be responsible for actions once aboard the International Space Station.

“We are definitely doing that,” replied Hurley a few hours after launching. “It has been a stunning spaceship up to now. To the Dragon teams, and obviously everyone there in Hawthorne that’s done all of this work to catch up us here.
“Everyone go home and kind of remember this moment. It has been pretty incredible.”

Hear Dragon commander Doug Hurley’s message into the SpaceX mission control team in Hawthorne.
“It has been a stunning spaceship up to now,” Hurley says.

— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) May 30, 2020

Hurley later finished a manual flight test to demonstrate that the crew’s capability to command inputs that were manual .
The astronauts also downlinked live video from within the spacecraft.
Hurley and Behnken declared they’re naming the capsule”Endeavour” after the retired NASA space shuttle. The spacecraft is the third crew car from the U.S. space application to be termed Endeavour, after the Apollo 15 command module along with shuttle orbiter.
“We chose Endeavour for a few reasons — one because of the incredible endeavor NASA, SpaceX and the United States of America have been around as the end of the shuttle program back in 2011.
“The other reason we named it Endeavour is a bit more private to Bob and I,” Hurley continued. “We both had our first flights shuttle Endeavour, also it only meant a lot for all of us to carry on such a name.”
However, this Endeavour is different. Instead of becoming a spaceship, the Crew Dragon is owned by SpaceX. And it is controlled by SpaceX engineers in Houston, not by NASA controls and builders in Southern California.
The change is a significant step in the commercialization of spaceflight, a strategic goal of NASA, which states the change will bring about reduced costs and innovation .
NASA is currently looking to incorporate elements that are commercial in its architecture to return humans. The agency last month declared two firms and SpaceX won contracts to advance development of lunar lander vehicles.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk celebrates after the launch of Saturday. Credit: Walter Scriptinas II / Spaceflight NowThe launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft Saturday was a turning point the once-upstart space firm, for SpaceX. It comes after decades of development, including delays brought on by financing shortfalls in drawbacks and budgets, including a set of problems in the last year involving the launch abort system and parachutes of the crew capsule.
Musk said he was”quite overcome with emotion” after the Dragon launching Saturday.
“It has been 18 years working toward this aim, so it is difficult to feel that it is occurring,” Musk said. “We haven’t really yet docked safely with all the space station, and naturally, we need to bring them back safely, and we need to repeat these assignments and have this be a regular occurrence. So there is a lot of work to perform.”
But NASA and Musk officials were after the launch of Saturday.
“It has been nine years since we’ve launched American astronauts on American rockets from American land, and today we’ve done it ,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Prior to coming back to Earth to get a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape 33, the Demo-2 astronauts will live and work on the International Space Station to get months. The length of the test flight will be dependent on the performance of the capsule’s solar arrays in orbit, mission managers said earlier this season.
Hurley and Behnken were just two of four NASA astronauts chosen in 2015 to train for crew assignments on Boeing and SpaceX capsules. NASA assigned the two-man crew to the SpaceX Demo-2 assignment in 2018.
NASA has signed a collection of financing agreements with SpaceX because 2011 valued at greater than $3.1 billion. With technical oversight and NASA funding, SpaceX has developed the human-rated Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch on the company’s Falcon rocket that was 9.
Boeing has received a similar collection of contracts from NASA — valued at over $4.8 billion — to develop the Starliner crew capsule.
After Starliner vehicles and the Crew Dragon are operational but these amounts comprise crew transport services to be covered by NASA payments to the builders. Phil McAlister, the head of spaceflight development of NASA, stated May 13 that the space agency spent around $5 billion toward Starliner layout and Crew Dragon and development.
The firms put in an unspecified level of private financing, a requirement.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley (right) suit up for Saturday’s launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA/Kim ShiflettWith Saturday’s launching, SpaceX became the first company to put people. The achievement follows SpaceX milestones, like getting the first company to deliver cargo.
SpaceX has also carved out a leading place in the world commercial launch industry, and is now a trustworthy builder to launch satellites for the U.S. military.
However, the long-term eyesight — laid out from Musk of SpaceX — is space travel. And launch people into space is a mission for the business.
NASA and SpaceX received a number of messages, including a veteran cosmonaut who needs spaceflight applications in the space agency, from Sergei Krikalev.
NASA has since paid the Russian government approximately $3.9 billion because 2006 to purchase Soyuz chairs for astronauts from the USA along with the station’s other foreign partners, according to a report last year from NASA’s inspector general.
Most recently, NASA agreed to pay the Russian government $90.2 million for one Soyuz chair on a launching this October. The U.S. space agency decided to sign the agreement to ensure access to the space station for a NASA crew member in case of additional flaws in the new U.S. crew capsules.

Before it is cleared to fly astronauts boeing spaceship — facing waits after a unpiloted test flight last December — will have to execute a second demonstration assignment that is automated. The Starliner’s crewed test flight to the space station is expected in the first half of 2021.
A report from the NASA inspector general last year concluded the space agency is paying roughly $55 million each $90 million, and round-trip chair on Crew Dragon assignments for a Starliner ticket. Both capsules will take four astronauts on missions.
NASA expects to finish payments to Russia once the new U.S. crew ships are operational. Underneath the space agencies’ current programs, U.S. astronauts will keep on flying Soyuz spacecraft and Russian cosmonauts will launch and land onto the new U.S. vehicles under a barter arrangement, without the funds exchanged.
But Russian officials say they’re not assigning cosmonauts to assignments on U.S. vehicles until they are flight-proven.
The partnership with NASA on the International Space Station program on a technical level of russia was an unqualified success.
Nevertheless, the relationship was tortured.
When Russia annexed Crimea 1 point came in 2014. That prompted the Obama administration to levy U.S. sanctions on Russian government entities, and some people, including then-Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who’s currently the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
In reaction to the sanctions, Rogozin indicated on Twitter in 2014 that the United States”deliver its astronauts to the ISS using a trampoline.”
“The trampoline is working,” Musk joked Saturday.