SpaceX Makes History With Successful Return of EndeavorBy Alicia Arizpe | Mon, 08/03/2020 - 13:58
On Sunday, the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavor” safely brought back to Earth two astronauts from the International Space Station, closing a chapter in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to return space flight to the US. This successful mission is also a step forward toward SpaceX’s goal of making spaceflight available to the general public.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft made a water landing yesterday afternoon on the Gulf of Mexico, marking the end of a two-month long mission that took US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station for research purposes. On March 30, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon took off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and arrived the following day at the International Space Station. The Crew Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed by SpaceX to carry up to seven people or cargo to orbiting destinations and to return them to Earth. The successful launch performed by the Falcon 9, a two-stage reusable rocket designed by SpaceX, made history by making the company the first private business to successfully deliver a human crew to space. Later on, SpaceX accomplished another milestone by being the first US spacecraft to autonomously docked at the ISS, followed by another accomplishment after safely returning the astronauts to Earth.
The successful return of the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft marks the final step in SpaceX’s mission to launch and return a human crew to Earth and will allow the company to certify its Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and launchpad for NASA’s Commercial Crew and International Space Station Programs. The mission is being hailed for returning human spaceflight to US soil after NASA halted spaceflights in 2011, sending subsequent missions to the International Space Station in Russian Soyuz spacecraft. NASA’s partnership with SpaceX and Boeing under its Commercial Crew Program aims to develop cost-effective travel to low-Earth orbit destinations and to land the first woman on the moon by 2024.
Once SpaceX gets NASA’s certification, a process which is expected to take six weeks, it will launch its first operational mission, the Crew-1. Using the Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9 rocket, the crew-1 will take four astronauts to a six-month mission to the International Space Station. The launch, which is expected to take place in late-September, will be the first of at least six missions that NASA will perform with SpaceX under a US$2.6 billion contract.