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Crew Dragon Demo 2 - A brief history

A look at the lead up to the Demo 2 mission

By Chris Wilkinson Fri 05 Jun, 2020 4:48 PM
When we look at spaceflight, we usually look at the major nations such as the United States and Russia. Over the past 20 years however, private companies have become much more established, with the most well known and successful of these being SpaceX flying from Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Kennedy Space Centre.

What is very interesting is the pad that launched the recent Dragon capsule is the same pad that was used back in the sixties for the Apollo missions and the space shuttle launches that came after. There is a lot of history in that one small site and was therefore fitting that the first launch of Americans from US soil since 2011 took place from this launchpad, where all those who have come before launched from themselves.

This trip however, was one that had been in the making for some time. Before they were able to launch such a momentous rocket, there had to be a significant number of tests done to ensure that it was safe to send astronauts up within it. This is why only last year, it was sent up unmanned with only a dummy inside.200605 121848 This success proved that it could make the journey in a safe manner, but was in itself, not the start of it's story.

Before looking at the history of the capsule and the steps that SpaceX went through to make this launch happen, the capsule itself is a significant change from the history of US space capsules which had not been used since the end of the Apollo program. The astronauts this time around had access to touch screen panels which would not have looked amiss on the Kelvin Enterprise and space suits which looked more futuristic than the classic bright orange suits we saw through the space shuttle era. It is clear that SpaceX was going for a very functional, but futuristic design with the Dragon capsule. Another one of the interesting notes is the name that the astronauts chose for this capsule, Endeavour, was named after the shuttle both men served on, but was also a nod to the endeavour that Nasa and SpaceX have embarked on as part of this mission itself.

This pinnacle of technology was sitting atop the only reusable rocket which has been developed in the world, however the one used to send up this mission was on it’s first mission of use, but it is likely that it’ll be reused sometime in the future as they were able to recover it on the drone platform.

The Falcon rockets are only planned to send crews and payloads into Earths orbit. Further travel will begin with the production of the SpaceX Spaceship, which was developed as a way of getting around the idea of trying to recover the second stage of a rocket. This is due to a number of reasons, the primary of which is the speed of which it enters the atmosphere, as they travel at orbital velocities.

There is already another launch planned for the new Dragon capsules with this next one will carrying four astronauts up to the International Space Station to make up the Expedition 64 crew. This is scheduled for the 30th August 2020 although will be dependent on a number of factors in the future.

Looking back, the Falcon rockets themselves have had an impressive history with 86 launches to date with only a single total failure and a single partial failure. Both of these failed missions were resupplies for the ISS with the last one happening back in 2015. With just under five years of an impeccable record, it has become one of the most dependable rockets with only a handful of other rockets having launched as many missions.

Overall, SpaceX has been able to bring a new light to space travel as they broadcast a significant number of launches that they do, and are potentially sparking an interest in space travel for a brand-new generation.

They have ambitious plans for the future with their eye on Mars with each step of development they make, being a smaller part of the long-term goals that they have. Hopefully in the next few years, we will see Starship start to make an appearance and show us how reusable a space program can really be, and how far it can take us.

Is Private Industry the best hope for continued space exploration? Let us know in the comments below.

WRITTEN BY Chris Wilkinson
Sat 06 Jun, 2020 12:00 AM
"Under private organization we dont need to be finically limited by governing body." As per what NASA spoke person said during interview with the astronauts when they got to International space station. I wholeheartedly agree. With programs like space X we can see perhaps more advancement into space. I heard they want to make a base on the moon similar to what the international space station does. Maybe they'll be building rockets or ships from there which would reduce costs eventually. Very exciting times!
Sat 06 Jun, 2020 4:27 PM
While I'm not living in Florida atm and wasn't able to watch in-person, I was able to catch it live on TV and it was phenomenal! Not just the successful launch but then to see the rocket land safely to be reused for future flights was very impressive. I'm very glad Elon Musk has done so much with SpaceX and look forward to whats to come. Great article Chris, thanks for putting it out! Live Long and Prosper
Sun 07 Jun, 2020 1:03 AM
It may not be in my lifetime, I would never be able to afford it, and I kinda hate to admit it, but space tourism is one of the most exciting aspects of private industry taking such a big part in this for me.
Mon 08 Jun, 2020 10:47 AM
Thanks Michael and I agree it was an impressive launch, I watched it after the fact due to work.

Now they've done this I'm expecting SoaceX to double their efforts to be honest
Mon 08 Jun, 2020 3:52 PM
About the shuttle you were talking about.