SpaceX and Boeing competed for NASA’s plan to put astronauts again in space. It’s been nine years since the last human mission in space via an American rocket. SpaceX got $2.6 billion to have the Crew Dragon capsule ready to do it. Boeing reached $4.2 billion to develop Starliner. Both spacecraft have failed las year during the tests.
In December 2019, multiple in-flight malfunctions, primarily caused by software problems, proved Starliner too far to complete the mission. One of the errors made the spacecraft unable to reach the space station due to too much fuel burning. At the beginning of February 2020, another possible fatal mistake was disclosed. A miss-configuration in the software controlling the module’s separation sequence before re-entry. So, Boeing got out of the race.
In April 2019, a SpaceX Dragon capsule exploded in a test due to the nitrogen tetroxide propellant leaked. They made the necessary modification for an emergency abort system.
SpaceX To Fly Two Astronauts In Space With The Dragon Crew Capsule
In January 2020, the test was a success, and SpaceX is on the way to take veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a test flight to the International Space Station in May 2020. The mission is called the Demo-2. A delay in the current program is to be expected.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will lift The Crew Dragon spacecraft from the same departure point as the Apollo 11 moon landing mission: pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Until May, the two pilots are training for the mission.
Hurley and Behnken are training to live and work aboard the station in case NASA authorizes the astronauts to stay in orbit longer than initially planned. Hurley will be the vehicle commander on the Crew Dragon test flight and is currently training as a robotic arm operator. Behnken will be the vehicle pilot and is receiving refreshed training on spacewalks. They need to be prepared in case NASA decides to extend their stay on the space station.