NASA Astronauts Launch from America in Historic Test Flight of SpaceX Crew Dragon

From NASA

May 30, 2020 RELEASE 20-057

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew transportation system. Behnken and Hurley launched at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this significant achievement for the United States. The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”

Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. This is SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, which will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” said Elon Musk, chief engineer at SpaceX. “It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”

The program demonstrates NASA’s commitment to investing in commercial companies through public-private partnerships and builds on the success of American companies, including SpaceX, already delivering cargo to the space station.

President Donald Trump, right, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence watch the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 .

President Donald Trump, right, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence watch the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, from the balcony of Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew transportation system. Behnken and Hurley launched at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

“It’s difficult to put into words how proud I am of the people who got us here today,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “When I think about all of the challenges overcome – from design and testing, to paper reviews, to working from home during a pandemic and balancing family demands with this critical mission – I am simply amazed at what the NASA and SpaceX teams have accomplished together. This is just the beginning; I will be watching with great anticipation as Bob and Doug get ready to dock to the space station tomorrow, and through every phase of this historic mission.”

SpaceX controlled the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Control Center Firing Room 4, the former space shuttle control room, which SpaceX has leased as its primary launch control center. As Crew Dragon ascended into space, SpaceX commanded the spacecraft from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California. NASA teams are monitoring space station operations throughout the flight from Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the space station at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31. NASA Television and the agency’s website are providing ongoing live coverage of the Crew Dragon’s trip to the orbiting laboratory. Behnken and Hurley will work with SpaceX mission control to verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and by maneuvering the thrusters, among other things. The first docking maneuver began Saturday, May 30, at 4:09 p.m., and the spacecraft will begin its close approach to the station at about 8:27 a.m. Sunday, May 31. Crew Dragon is designed to dock autonomously, but the crews onboard the spacecraft and the space station will diligently monitor the performance of the spacecraft as it approaches and docks to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module.

After successfully docking, the crew will be welcomed aboard the International Space Station, where they will become members of the Expedition 63 crew, which currently includes NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. NASA will continue live coverage through hatch opening and the crew welcoming ceremony. The crew will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

Three astronauts aboard the International Space Station will participate in a live NASA Television crew news conference from orbit on Monday, June 1, beginning at 11:15 a.m. on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Demo-2 Astronauts

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, foreground, and Douglas Hurley, wearing SpaceX spacesuits
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, foreground, and Douglas Hurley, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-2 mission launch, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew ransportation system. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to launch at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Behnken is the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights. Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, performing three spacewalks during each mission. Born in St. Anne, Missouri, he has bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Before joining NASA, he was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley waves as he departs the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A
NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley waves as he and fellow crew member Robert Behnken depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-2 mission launch, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew transportation system. Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to launch at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Hurley is the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for both STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011. The New York native was born in Endicott but considers Apalachin his hometown. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mission Objectives

The Demo-2 mission is the final major test before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. As SpaceX’s final flight test, it will validate all aspects of its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon spacecraft, spacesuits, Falcon 9 launch vehicle, launch pad 39A and operations capabilities.

While en route to the station, Behnken and Hurley will take control of Crew Dragon for two manual flight tests, demonstrating their ability to control the spacecraft should an issue with the spacecraft’s automated flight arise. On Saturday, May 30, while the spacecraft is coasting, the crew will test its roll, pitch and yaw. When Crew Dragon is about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) below the station and moving around to the docking axis, the crew will conduct manual in-orbit demonstrations of the control system in the event it were needed. After pausing, rendezvous will resume and mission managers will make a final decision about whether to proceed to docking as Crew Dragon approaches 20 meters (66 feet).

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members at a time and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, allowing for an increased number crew members aboard the space station and increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, as well as returning more science back to Earth.

The Crew Dragon being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days, and the specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch. The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.

At the conclusion of the mission, Behnken and Hurley will board Crew Dragon, which will then autonomously undock, depart the space station, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Upon splashdown off Florida’s Atlantic coast, the crew will be picked up by the SpaceX recovery ship and returned to the dock at Cape Canaveral.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with SpaceX and Boeing to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems to low-Earth orbit. Both companies are focused on test missions, including abort system demonstrations and crew flight tests, ahead of regularly flying crew missions to the space station. Both companies’ crewed flights will be the first times in history NASA has sent astronauts to space on systems owned, built, tested and operated by private companies. 

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

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70 thoughts on “NASA Astronauts Launch from America in Historic Test Flight of SpaceX Crew Dragon

    • This Dragon test flight was a lot easier on the nerves than previous test flights of new space vehicles since it has a viable way of saving the crew if something goes wrong with the rocket. Previous test flights of new vehicles involved a lot more stress. The rocket had to work or people died. Now we have a very good chance of surviving such a thing. Progress! 🙂

      • Tom, the until the Shuttle, the US has always incorporated escape systems from beginning of countdown until safe orbit. The shuttle had an escape system, but one that nobody believed would actually work.
        All of our manned capsules did. That is what that pointy tower is atop the capsule. Dragon simply put theirs under the capsule. A different approach, which has its merits and faults. Big fault is that you carry the weight the entire trip, even after you no longer need it.

        • I recall the debate on the space shuttle nose section and crew capsule being a true detachable escape module. However, the astronauts lost by -14 to the weight/cost saving engineers comfortably sitting on the ground. Columbia was outfitted with two ejection seats for the first four space shuttle flights, in 1981 and 1982. Each time, only two pilots were on board. By the fifth flight, NASA had declared the space shuttle operational. Evacuation seats were no longer deemed necessary, and the crew size expanded beyond pilots. What kind of logic is that one must ask.

  1. Saw the craft pass over central England last night. Great. Good luck to the team for the rest if the trip

    • Interesting idea. It could be clever PR to present the whole thing as a continuity and not a new era after the failed shuttle which had to be taken out of service after too many costly accidents.

      They would also need to chose a seasoned test pilot, not a first time flier, for what is still a risky, first time manned mission for this craft.

      They can save the female / transgender / diversity crews for later flights. Let the old white male patriarchy candidates take all the risks first.

    • “Doug Hurley was part of the end of one era in US space flight, and now he’s part of the start of the next era. Was this a deliberate decision by NASA?”

      That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer to it. That’s some good detective work on your part, Walter. 🙂

      • That Doug Hurley flew the last shuttle mission to the space station was mentioned during NASA’s coverage of the docking earlier today.

    • who cares?

      There is an interesting discussion by “Everyday astronaut” on Utube about emissions of various kinds of rockets and he seems fairly well informed about climate.

      Solid fuel boosters like the shuttle had are by far the worst. Most current technologies are pretty much CO2+WV, so it does not matter at all. Besides the fact is is so small scale as to be irrelevant whatever they use.

      Most of the cloud of “white smoke” on blast off, is just water vapour due to tonnes of water dumped to absorb heat and dampen the thermal shock wave of the initial blast. That was quite interesting to me because I’d always assumed is was combustion products.

    • Perhaps the rioters should be reminded that burning buildings releases carbon emissions and their Molotov cocktails are not environmentally friendly.

    • Rocket motor kerosene is generally C12H26, thus 12 CO2 molecules per one molecule of rocket motor kerosene oxidized and 26/2 =13 molecules of dihydrogen oxide …H2O…HOH (water…lol)
      Typical launch uses 29400 gallons of RP-1 Kerosene. Molar mass is 321.4964 g/mol …I think…lol

  2. The apparent rocket exhaust is just a holographic light show. In reality, everything is actually powered by racks of Nicad batteries feeding their power up to the super hot weather balloons that pull the whole thing upwards. Sort of like reentry drogue parachutes, but in reverse! With this ‘secret system’, there is no need for any ever so nasty fuel burning emissions at all!

    Well, OK, so I’m doing an obvious /sarc there. The real story is, there is an invisible glass arch supported by an Elon Musk mini hyperloop propelling these rockets upward. And, well, not to take anything away from the Elon Musk/SpaceX success in developing these rockets of course! Anyway, would I lie about things like hot balloons, hypersonic dirigibles, hyperloop accelerators, etc.?

    Science is just so wonderfully ‘sciencey’ these days, that’s all.

  3. What is commercial in the low orbit space again? Who is going to go there and pay the price? Space tourism? like in the “avenue 5?”. Where is the business plan? Or this is another musky thought bubble.
    The moon station step out, perhaps? I can see that. Get that He3
    Mars? Not for another 50 years and we would have to involve a series of space stations between the planets with dozens of astronauts involved. This would be a huge cost to the tune of trillions of $. Unless they invent a new propulsion system.

    • In the short term (2-10 years), Crew Dragon could be used by a variety of nations to have a crewed space program on the cheap. It could also be a taxi to private space stations, if Bigelow gets around to orbit some of their modules. Very high end tourism is also a possibility, but is not likely to be a big deal.

      The real game changer will be if SpaceX can get Starship operational. The cost to orbit, which is already tiny compared to Apollo days, should go down further by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. The revolution will come about via a combination of total reusability (leading to airline style ops) and on orbit refueling. That makes trips to the moon and eventually trips to Mars possible. Another revenue stream could be suborbital transport for people and cargo, where you can go from any city on earth to any other in under 90 minutes. When you achieve airline efficiency and combine it with just about the cheapest fuel on the planet, you get a nice alternative to an 18 hour flight in an airliner.

      Of course, SpaceX will have to get beyond the point where they blow up every prototype. 🙂

    • Elon Musk is selling an astronaut low earth orbit delivery service to NASA. NASA in return has ‘sold’ Elon Musk the risk of providing that capability. That is the commercial aspect of it – Space-X is delivering astronauts to space as a service.

    • When going off into unexplored territory, Firemann, the new benefits can not be known.

      But (so far) they’ve always been there.

    • Space tourism already exists, though it’s a relatively small market. That said, much of the funding for Starship is coming from a Japanese billionaire who wants to use it to take a trip to the Moon.

      Dragon could theoretically take three tourists and a SpaceX pilot into space for the cost of an upper stage, refurbishing the capsule and first stage, fuel and processing. So maybe ten million a seat, which is about a tenth of the cost that previous tourists have paid.

  4. Call me unimpressed. Give me unmanned space programs all day long. Their benefit to science and technology, which enhances life on earth, has been well established. Manned programs, while sexy and romantic, create little benefit other than proving we can put people in space in artificial environments.

    Half a century ago we landed men on the moon and successfully returned them to earth. Why did we not continue that program? The answer is there was no need to. There was no reason to do it other than to prove we could. There is also no need to continuously orbit crews around the earth on the I S S, other than to show it’s possible. Do you ever notice there is rarely anything written about any meaningful scientific breakthroughs or achievements being accomplished on the I S S?

    Now I hear that the SpaceX goal is to allow average citizens the chance to go to space. That’s great… a thrill ride for multi-millionaires. Disney World will be jealous.

    • For one thing, it’s kind of hard to study the impacts of spaceflight on humans without using humans.

      • Mir and ISS have conclusively demonstrated what the long-term impacts of spaceflight are.

        Bones and muscles atrophy. Internal organs lose their ability to function as effectively. Some senses become dulled. The longer a person is in space, the worse these effects become and the longer it takes to recover once a person is back on Earth. There may be some long-term health consequences that are irreversible.

        Most of these problems can be overcome by creating an artificial-gravity environment and any serious discussion about humans travelling out into the solar system needs to address this issue first and foremost. Until humans are building ships that have some form of artificial gravity, we won’t be able to stay in space long enough to do anything significant.

        When it comes to scientific discovery (that’s not about the effects of space on human physiology), unmanned probes have been delivering more bang-for-buck for the last 50 years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

        • “The longer a person is in space, the worse these effects become and the longer it takes to recover oncea person is back on Earth. ”

          You’re confusing being in ‘space’ with being ‘weightless’.

          Mir and ISS provide a weightless environment but may have demonstrated that long term ‘space’ residences need to be designed to simulate gravity at least part of the time.

          • “You’re confusing being in ‘space’ with being ‘weightless’.”

            I assumed readers were smart enough to split those hairs on their own. Guess I was wrong.

            However, some of the effects of long stays in space are not due to weightlessness but, are due to increased exposure to radiation. Gravity-simulation will not remedy those problems but, they are not insurmountable.

            “Mir and ISS provide a weightless environment but may have demonstrated that long term ‘space’ residences need to be designed to simulate gravity at least part of the time.”

            That neatly paraphrases what I said.

        • “Mir and ISS have conclusively demonstrated what the long-term impacts of spaceflight are.”

          Unfortunately, we only have two data points for the effects of gravity on humans. There’s lots of data about 1g. We have limited data on 0g. What’s missing are data on reproduction, development and multi-year adaptability. At least we have something.

          However, we have no idea about the long term effects of 1/6g (Moon) or 1/3g (Mars). If NASA had really been doing its job, they would have already built a rotating space station with Moon and Mars rings. Oh well.

          At least we know that we’d have no problem with a cloud city on Venus. I propose calling the first Venusian settlement on Venus “Bespin”.

          “When it comes to scientific discovery (that’s not about the effects of space on human physiology), unmanned probes have been delivering more bang-for-buck for the last 50 years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

          The ludicrous efforts to get thermal gradient data on Mars argues against this. In situ humans are orders of magnitude more productive for scientific return for a given amount of time on the ground compared to robotic missions (e.g., a hammer would have solved the year-long problem in about 5 seconds). One Battlestar Galactica robotic mission typically costs a few GigaBucks. A single Apollo mission (ignoring the development costs) was about 1 GigaBuck and returned hundreds of times more scientific data. That’s the experience from Apollo, but we could not afford it at Apollo prices.

          If we cut the costs by 3 or 4 orders of magnitude (we’re already at over 1 order of magnitude), the equation swings wildly in favor of boots on the ground.

          But the final point is that science is not why you go to space. The real reasons are settlement and development. Once we become a space faring society, the solar system and its nearly limitless resources will be our playground. That’s why we go to space and it’s about time we got on with it. NASA still doesn’t see this, but Bezos and Musk do.

          • “One Battlestar Galactica robotic mission typically costs a few GigaBucks. A single Apollo mission (ignoring the development costs) was about 1 GigaBuck and returned hundreds of times more scientific data.”

            You’ve got that backwards. Human missions cost several orders of magnitude more that robotic missions because of the need to add the weight of life-support systems to the final payload. Cutting launch costs by a few orders of magnitude will make both types of mission cheaper so, the equation will stay pretty much the same: a handful of manned missions vs dozens or hundreds of robotic missions for the same amount of money.

            While humans have been stuck in low-earth orbit since the end of Apollo, robots have been to every major planet in our system, plus a few of the minor planets as well. Thanks to robotic missions, our understanding of the solar system has advanced dramatically. If we had spent that money on manned missions, we could’ve planted another half-dozen flags on the moon but we’d still know next to nothing about any of the other bodies in the system.

            [I’m counting all space-telescopes as robots so, many of the advances in astronomy in the last 50 years would not exist if we’d spent all our money on manned missions.]

    • “Call me unimpressed. Give me unmanned space programs all day long.”

      The thing about it is that Free Enterprise has given us a new capability for accessing low-Earth orbit, and the Free Market will determine if low-Earth orbit or other orbits are economically valuable enough to spend private money on, so there will be little burden on the taxpayers. It’s a win-win situatiion. If there is something of value in orbit, people will find it. Now they have a much easier time getting there and looking around.

      I think NASA should contract with SpaceX to build an orbital transfer vehicle. NASA has been dragging its feet on this vehicle for many years. If you want to do things in orbit other than working inside the International Space Station, then you are going to need a vehicle that can move from one orbit to another. Such a vehicle would allow us to extend the life of the Hubble Telescope, or service the new Webb telescope or do a thousand other errands that would be necessary to do if an actual viable Earth/Moon space development program were implemented.

      The formula for space development has been around for many years. Unfortunately, in the past, NASA was very shortsighted and never really had the mindset for a major space development plan. They were satisfied to go back and forth to low-Earth orbit, and thoughts beyond, by the NASA administration were just not there. They had what they wanted: a program to maximize the use of the Space Shuttle, and make it essential, and that was all accomplished by their multi-decade, multi-billion dollar International Space Station. They didn’t need to look any farther.

      It never occurred to them that they could have maximized the use of the Space Shuttle by going with a comprehensive Earth/Moon/Mars development program. That would have required a *lot* of Space Shuttle launches, Dan. More than the International Space Station required.

      The Bad NASA never thought much about anything beyond low-Earth orbit, so orbital transfer vehicles were not a priority, or even a thought for most of the brass.

      The Good NASA of today under Bridenstine’s leadership is not only looking past low-Earth orbit but to the Moon and Mars, so it’s time to get that orbital transfer vehicle going.

  5. From the article: “Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations.”

    I’m wondering why these two astronauts are going to spend a month or more on the International Space Station. I’m not complaining, it just seems to me that they would want to land as soon as possible to finish the test, and then they can get on to commercial operations.

    I’m sure they have a good reason, I just don’t know what it is.

    • I ran across this later in the article: “The Crew Dragon being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days, and the specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch. The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.”

      That still doesn’t really give me an understanding of why they are staying for more than a few days at the International Space Station. They are not really testing the duration of the Dragon because it is not based on its duration in orbit but based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

      So I still don’t know. I don’t know what they are testing by doing this long-duration part of the flight.

      • I’m trying to figure out what the 110 day limit is based on.
        Once it’s connected to the space station, power is being provided by the station.
        Is it the stability of the fuel used for the attitude and re-entry rockets?

        • It’s presumably just the length of time that NASA has approved it for?

          It’s worth noting that the difficult part of getting NASA to approve it for safety was not the launch or landing, but the time in orbit, due to NASA’s concerns over micrometeoroid damage. So it may be 110 days was as much as they were willing to agree to.

        • “I’m trying to figure out what the 110 day limit is based on.
          Once it’s connected to the space station, power is being provided by the station.”

          I was just now listening to NASA TV (I need a break from the riots) and one person was saying that the Dragon has solar panels which they are testing and he said they were estimating these solar panels would degrade in about 110 days.

          I didn’t know the Dragon had solar panels, and I didn’t see any in pictures after it docked with the International Space Station, but I guess they do, according to this person.

          He also said they had several weeks of checkout tests to do on the Dragon, and the two Dragon astronaunts are going to help with some work on the space station. And I guess they are going to stay up there until a second Dragon is launched sometime around August.

      • “The mission’s extension allows Hurley and Behnken to help swap out the station’s batteries, a task that requires an outside spacewalk the current US resident on the ISS, Chris Cassidy, could not do alone.”
        https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/nasa-astronauts-launched-iss-spacex-sunday-31-may-12-52-ist-will-stay-longer-originally-planned-8323611.html

        I could not determine how many crew are already there. I assume 1 US astronaut and 2 other non US astronauts. So 2 added it makes 5 ISS crew, which a low amount of crew for ISS.
        Also:
        “The two astronauts embraced the mission extension, with Hurley saying it could last anywhere from one to four months.”
        ISS better with 6 or 7 Crew, because more allows more time to do science projects rather maintenance tasks.
        Or with only 3 crew, I imagine they were spending most of their time doing ISS maintenance.

          • It seems that one of the Dragon pilots bumped and cut his head as he was entering the International Space Station yesterday. The injury was not serious.

  6. From the article: ““This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” said Elon Musk, chief engineer at SpaceX. “It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”

    The program demonstrates NASA’s commitment to investing in commercial companies through public-private partnerships and builds on the success of American companies, including SpaceX, already delivering cargo to the space station.”

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is just the right person to be leading NASA right now. He is pushing for as much invovlement of private enterprise in space as possible, and this latest success with the Falcon 9/Dragon combination is a good example.

    Private enterprise makes any enterprise better. The Free Market is an amazing, essential phenomenon for a free society. The Free Market leads to Freedom, and away from government control. And it’s profitable for everyone! The Rising Tide lifts all Boats.

  7. Attaboy, Dave. What is it about people that we so often assume that difficult tasks must therefore be valuable tasks? Why would anyone want to go to the moon when they could go to Vancouver instead?

    Of course, you really have to admit that Elon Musk is quite a guy. If were a billionaire, I’d just kick back and hire people to make my life as pleasant as possible. Or, if I were an American, run for president and be an abrasive narcissist.

    • Who will be the first celebrity multi-millionaires to put down the money for a trip to the I S S or the moon? I can’t wait to see that advancement in science.

        • I wonder if the Chinese will have veto power over how Tom’s new space movie will be made. Hollywood is so entertwined with the Chinese communists that they allow the Chicoms to modify their movies if the movie doesn’t show China in the best light possible. I think they had a lot of input in Tom’s latest “Top Gun” movie.

          The oblivious United States, just sitting here waiting to be plucked. It was so easy then, wasn’t it, Xi. Then along came Trump.

          I wonder how Hollywood is going to fare over all the fallout from the new Cold War.

    • “Why would anyone want to go to the moon when they could go to Vancouver instead?”

      Ian, I think if it were possible to easily and inexpensively travel to the Moon, there would be people lined up around the block waiting to catch a ride. Even if it were expensive, there would be people lined up around the block. As long as you can make it possible for them to get there and back, they will go.

    • Or, if I were an American, run for president and be an abrasive narcissist.

      Obama wasn’t a billionaire, at least before he was elected.

      • As for Vancouver, there’s too many Canadians there. They practically outnumber the Americans.

    • “Or, if I were an American, run for president and be an abrasive narcissist.”

      Yeah, but he is *our* abrasive narcissist and he gets the job done. As Trump’s latest campaign commercial says, “President Trump is not always polite. This is no time for “Mr. Niceguy”.

      I agree, it’s no time for Mr. Niceguy, what with the Radical Left trying to destroy the United States.

      It’s time for full mobilzation of the National Guard and if that isn’t enough, then the U.S. military should be sent in. And then there is always Marital Law.

      Anyone thowing any kind of deadly projectile or using any weapon in these riots should be shot. The same goes for any looters.

      The reason this situation has gotten out of hand is because law enforcement is not cracking down on these criminals. If they let the criminals run amok, then they will continue to do so.

      I have to laugh (without humor) at some of these tv talking heads trying to reason with these criminals. Force is what these kind of violent people understand. And they understand when authorities are afraid to confront them, too, and this encourages them to continue their criminal activities.

      It won’t stop until someone cracks down on them hard. I would never order people to allow criminals to throw bricks at them and just stand there and take it. That’s a formula for more brick throwing.

      I guess these Democrat governors (most of the problem) just don’t understand human nature. They obviously are not capable of handling the situation. Eventually, private citizens will take their defense into their own hands if the authorities don’t put a stop to this now.

  8. Pretty exciting to watch. Even the booster landed safely. Successfully docked to ISS now. Congrats to SpaceX.

  9. I hope people listened to the President’s post launch speech. It was actually very good. It’s all to easy to forget that NASA was virtually eliminated by the last administration. You may not like the goals of the present space program, the moon and Mars. You may find the cost unjustifiable, but really the future can be predicted but not known.

    Things much simpler than going to space have been predicted about global warming for almost 4 decades with extremely limited success. The predictions produced such poor results a name change from Global Warming to Climate Change resulted.

    Anyone who has ever done any original work has to be impressed by SpaceX (and Musk’s associated companies).
    Would you bet against SpaceX making it to Mars or a permanent colonization of the moon?

    • Not to be a denier of Elon’s genius, which of his enterprises would be profitable without government subsidies? He is a genius at finance, to be sure. As a result of that, he is able to achieve apparently amazing things that many an engineer dreamt about and dutifully set aside for being uneconomic. He has done little to change the true costs, but has managed to sustain government funding of his many schemes long enough to appear successful.

      • Of course we could have continued to send Russia $75-90,000,000 for each astronaut sent into space.

        It’s always easy to see the negative in everything. I used to design original products and was always confronted by people who would tell me how and why something couldn’t be done. It’s easy to criticize. He has three major projects under way, Tesla, SpaceX and Space Internet. These are rather significant accomplishments.

        I have met many an engineer over my career with an idea but without the necessary courage.

        • Most engineers are hopeless when it comes to sales and very weak when it comes to finance. I agree that Musk is an extraordinary salesman. If SpaceX makes a profit selling services to the commercial market without leveraging direct subsidies and indirect subsidies such as free/sweetheart deal use of government infrastructure, that will be a good thing, especially if it results in lower costs to the government. When it comes to his electric cars and solar business, it’s obvious that he’s primarily a subsidy farmer.

          I have no idea if your $75-90m/astronaut cost is accurate, but if it is, then it only goes to show how absurd and pointless the ISS program has been.

          • ISS was basically built as a jobs program to stop Soviet rocket engineers moving to Iran or North Korea to work on ICBMs. I’m not saying it’s been useless, but that was the reason it wasn’t cancelled after the budget kept growing during the 90s.

            And, yes, those costs are accurate for launches on Soyuz, because the Russians had a captive market and knew it wouldn’t be captive forever. They were still cheaper than launching astronauts on the space shuttle.

      • “Not to be a denier of Elon’s genius, which of his enterprises would be profitable without government subsidies?”

        Very little of SpaceX’s income comes from the government, and almost all of that is purchasing services, like launching these astronauts. He has had at least one government-funded R&D contract, but that was developing new tech which would be useful for future government launches.

        Unlike Tesla, I can’t think of any subsidies he’s getting for SpaceX. And, right now, he’s busy disrupting the satellite communications market, because he can launch swarms of satellites on used rockets with reused fairings for a small fraction of the cost to his competitors.

      • Rich Davis says:
        He has done little to change the true costs

        I would think commercial satellite launch costs have been trimmed by having reusable launch vehicles.

    • “Would you bet against SpaceX making it to Mars or a permanent colonization of the moon?”

      No, I wouldn’t bet against it. Musk has the drive, and apparently has developed the technology to do what he says he is going to do. Certainly the Moon is within Musk’s reach.

      The Mars portion of his plans will depend on how well his new heavy-lift vehicle will do.

      Of course one can get around the heavy-lift requirement for the most part by establishing a base on the Moon and using the Lunar ice there to power your Mars explorations.

      Mine the water ice on the Moon; propel it into lunar orbit with a mass driver; collect the water ice with an orbital transfer vehicle and take it to a processing location; use the water ice to fuel all Earth/Moon/Mars system requirements. No heavy-lift from Earth required.

      • So that’s pretty much my point in a nutshell. The infrastructure you just described is technically possible and not too difficult to imagine. The question remains whether the cost is affordable and who would be paying those costs. It seems absolutely certain that such an enterprise will not be self-funding. So once again Musk is angling to suckle the teat of big government. And to what end? Why do we need to send humans to a frigid virtually airless hellhole? Just to “tick a box”, Mars? Check. Not for it.

        • “The question remains whether the cost is affordable and who would be paying those costs.”

          Yes, that is the question.

          Musk has reduced the costs somewhat by his innovations such as the reusable first stage booster, and his next goal will be to launch as many times as possible, which will further reduce costs, and then we will just have to see how much the costs come down and whether that makes things economically viable for private industry to start thinking about doing business in orbit.

          Musk’s heavy-lift booster may also reduce costs, but has yet to prove itself. He will need it for his “direct-launch” Mars plan. I’m not sure who he would get to pay for this though, other than himself. He says he wants to launch one thousand vehcles to Mars, so I guess that means he intends to build one thousand heavy-lift vehicles. Or, use one, one thousand times. That’s assuming he is going to try to reuse the heavy-lift boosters first stage, like he is doing with the Falcon 9.

          I haven’t really studied the details of Musk’s plans, I’m just going by what I hear and read occasionally. I think that is because I don’t think there is much of a future for a Mars colony, other than as a research station.

          I think the future of humans in space is in large habitats floating free in space, which are capable of supplying all human needs by providing an Earth-like environment, and protecting humans from the harsh space environment. It will be much easier, and much more useful, to build a large O’neill-type habitat in space, than it would be to establish a colony on Mars. Here’s an idea: Musk can build an O’neill-type habitat in orbit around Mars, and then he can enjoy Earth-like life in the habitat, and visit Mars any time he wants. Just don’t stay down there too long, Elon, or the radiation will get you.

          How about hollowing out a small asteriod and using that as a human habitat. We need to find one that is ideally about five miles in diameter and 20 miles long. Water jets doing the hollowing. Or we can just build one from scratch. Elon can create his own persoal kingdom. Others can, too. Endangered species? Give them their own safe habitat in space.

          If humans don’t manage to exceed the speed of light, then the long-term future of humanity is a Dyson Sphere. Let’s get started. 🙂

          It’s time to start promoting the human use of centrifugal force in space.

          https://space.nss.org/o-neill-cylinder-space-settlement/

  10. Yes, Norm, I would bet against a permanent colonization of the moon. There is nothing there. It would be like establishing a colony at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, except vastly more difficult and expensive.

    The original motive for Americans going to the moon was to beat the Russians to it. The whole thing was basically an exercise in competitive vanity. Once men had been there there was no longer any point in going there.

    What exactly is the motive for going to Mars? Why is there an international space station at all? I don’t get it.

    • Ian,
      Many will agree with you about colonies on the Moon and Mars, definitely expensive and maybe purposeless. You may absolutely be correct. However when you try to accomplish significant tasks, you can push envelopes, simply consider the last century. Can 1920 imagine 2020?

    • The surface of Mars happens to look earth-like enough that at least some people who have no affinity for going to the Moon seem to have the dream of humans going to Mars.

      However, I’d agree with you that Mars is a long way from our concerns here on this planet. At least the Moon has some possible application for satellite industries, obtaining fuel for maneuvering in space there, possibly, and other things. Capturing really small asteroids could have applications too, the Moon isn’t absolutely the only interesting ‘in space’ resource in that sense.

      Also, don’t forget, if the ticket price could eventually be made cheap enough, the Moon could become of interest for space tourism. With Mars, well, it’s just one heck of a long ways away, that’s all! I’m not quite imagining tourism there in any foreseeable future, myself.

      In any case, if there is some place in space that people can access with reasonable cost in money and time, with any significant appeal or benefit to be had, someone is going to do that. Making a long term home there may or may not happen then, it depends on economics ultimately.

    • Ian Coleman
      May 31, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      In my opinion we need to find out ASAP if Mars could ever be hospitable to us frail humans so we can consider it as a possible plan B for our species.

      Unlikely but still possible species threatening events on Earth could include asteroid strikes, nuclear or biological war, Covid 37, etc. It just gives our species a second chance which I’m sure the dinosaurs would have appreciated.

      Musk’s big plans could help to answer that question for us.

  11. Actually, Norm and Alastair, I do understand why people want to spend huge amounts of money to go to the Moon and Mars. It’s because people are attracted to demonstrations of human superiority. Look at how arbitrary sports are. Why would we set up a competition where one person throws a ball towards another person who must then hit it with a bat, and then lavishly reward people who can hit the balls better than everybody else. I mean really, Mickey Mantle was just an unusually strong habitual drunkard who could really smack a baseball. It’s not as if he produced anything of material value, like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs. But I sure did admire Mickey Mantle.

    Going to the Moon was an arbitrarily chosen task to demonstrate American courage and ingenuity. I grew up in the sixties, and I remember well both John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, whose exploits I watched live with my parents. It was just an amazing show. The problem is, the story was limited, and you couldn’t tell it twice and get the same kick as you got the first time.

    When Hillary and Norgay made it up and down Everest, that was a thrill. I don’t know who the next man was to climb Everest.

  12. “It’s because people are attracted to demonstrations of human superiority.” -Ian Coleman

    It’s impossible to speak for others but I appreciate achievement of many kinds. My youngest son played baseball. Once when he was really hitting well I asked him what was different when hitting well.

    He immediately responded that the ball seems to stop over the plate. As I’ve gotten older I can recall moments when time at least slowed down or even stopped, usually during a trauma event. Now hitting a baseball is not trauma, however maybe this skill of enhanced focus can be learned. My point is I am interested in achievement, the drive of individuals and teams to go beyond the everyday.

    Challenges can spur some people onto new heights, heights that can benefit us all. Tesla’s success has spurred on the electric car market. Musk’s satellite internet is truly exciting to me, we’re been traveling for 20 years in an RV and the thought of continuous Internet in our travels across Labrador, remote Newfoundland or Northern Quebec would be a wonderful extension. I don’t know what the challenge of the Moon or Mars will bring but I’ll be interested.

    My first job was slave to the President of a small company. As a figure of speech, if someone asked him to build a ladder to the moon, he would say what color. My major message in responding to this thread was ignoring space as we were doing before this President was a mistake. I applaud our President and those accepting challenge.

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