The changing weather ultimately did not cause a second report: the SpaceX rocket propelled astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in ten minutes 200 km above the oceans.
SpaceX became Saturday 30th May 2020 in Florida the first private company to launch astronauts into space, a historic success which offers the United States a new means of space transport, after nine years of interruption.
A small hot point vanishing in the sky, the rocket propelled astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in ten minutes 200 km above the oceans, spinning at 20 times the speed of sound towards the International Space Station (ISS) at which they will automatically dock on Sunday at 2:29 p.m. GMT if everything continues as normal.
Their hypersonic ascent was broadcast live by cameras inside their Crew Dragon capsule, and once in orbit, the two best friends offered a guided tour, making somersaults in weightlessness, above Earth -New. They named their ship Endeavor, a nod to the shuttle in which everyone travelled in the late 2000s.
The changing weather did not ultimately cause a second postponement, while the risk of lightning had postponed from Wednesday to Saturday this takeoff.
The rocket built by SpaceX near Los Angeles took off safely, in a finally largely blue sky, at 3:22 pm (19:22 GMT) of the Kennedy space centre, under the eyes of tens of thousands of people installed along the beaches of the area, and Donald Trump, who came to witness in person what NASA calls the dawn of a new space era.
“Former leaders have put the United States at the mercy of foreign countries to send our astronauts into orbit. It’s over, ”said in a reference to the fact that since the end of the space shuttles in 2011, Russian rockets have been sending the Americans to the ISS.
“Today’s launch demonstrates that the future belongs to the private space industry,” he said after applauding Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX in 2002.
New economic model
“I am overwhelmed with emotion,” said the boss at a press conference later.
I find it hard to speak, we’ve been working with this goal for 18 years. I can’t believe it happened
The mission may seem like a modest step in space exploration: “Bob” and “Doug” will neither go to the Moon nor to Mars, only in the old space station, 400 km from Earth, where Russians and Americans and others have come and gone since 1998.
NASA, however, sees a “revolution” because SpaceX will give the United States access to space, cheaper than its previous programs. For three billion granted since 2011 as part of a fixed price contract, SpaceX has fully developed a new space taxi and promised six round trips to the ISS. Previously, the space agency ordered a specific vehicle from industry giants, and assumed all budget overruns.
In doing so, the ex-start-up defeated Boeing, whose Starliner capsule missed an empty test flight last year.
Adding to the emerging mythology of society, the launch took place from step 39A from which the Apollo missions to explore the Moon took off in the 1960s and 1970s.
“We have not seen American astronauts take off from American territory in American rockets for nine years,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Today, we did it again.”
For Elon Musk, a brilliant and impetuous entrepreneur obsessed with the red planet, the chip jumps 400 km from Earth are only one step, “a first step in our journey to establish a civilization on Mars”, and to make humanity a “multiplanetary species”.
Trust had to be won. Elon Musk knew nothing about rockets when he created SpaceX. Its first three launches failed. A rocket exploded on the ground, another shortly after launch with refuelling for the ISS. Last year, the Dragon capsule itself exploded during a ground engine test. The program should have started in 2017.
Ultimately, NASA officials gave the green light to entrust two of its astronauts to SpaceX, and speak of the “miracles” of this new kind of partnership, which was already working well for the delivery of cargo to the ISS. since 2012.
Dragon is a capsule like Apollo, but a 21st century version. Touch screens have replaced buttons and joysticks. The interior is dominated by white, the more subtle lighting. A single “umbilical” cord connects the suits to the seats to provide fresh air and communications for the two men, dressed in fitted space suits, designed with the help of a Hollywood costumer.
If it is certified safe after its space mission, which could last until August, the Americans will no longer depend on the Russians to access space.
Routings from Florida will return to regular, with four astronauts on board. SpaceX also intends to make private passengers travel in an orbit, or even in the ISS, perhaps next year.