This is what you need to know:.
A loan… C.J. Gunther/EPA, through Shatterstock.
Sunday night SpaceX put four astronauts into orbit, overcoming questionable weather and short delays thanks to the hatchway of the spacecraft. After a stay of about 27.5 hours in orbit, the astronauts dock at the International Space Station and begin a six-month stay.
At 7:27 p.m. Eastern time, the nine motors of the private Falcon 9 rocket roared and lit up the night sky as the rocket arched over the Atlantic Ocean.
Four astronauts take part in this flight – Michael S. Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor J. Hopkins. NASA’s Glover and Soichi Noguchi, Japanese astronaut.
Instead of relying on government spacecraft, NASA astronauts and anyone with enough money can buy a ticket for a commercial rocket in the future.
NASA has scheduled the launch of the first operational flight of the Dragon Crew spacecraft, developed and operated by SpaceX, a rocket company launched by Alon Mask, for Sunday evening. Four astronauts on board, three from NASA and one from the Japanese space agency JAXA, left Earth from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Last week NASA and SpaceX completed a certification process to ensure that SpaceX meets the specifications set for ordinary NASA astronauts to get into orbit. This launch, known as Crew-1, is a regular four-member trip for a six-month stay at the Space Station.
This concludes the development phase of the system, said Phil McAllister, NASA’s director of space industry development, in a telephone interview with reporters Thursday. For the first time in history, there is commercial potential in the private sector for the safe transport of people in space.
A live video broadcast from NASA showed the astronauts in a good mood in their costume room, in their modern SpaceX flight suits. While many SpaceX engineers in black uniforms and masks helped them, the astronauts smiled and took pictures with visitors such as NASA administrator Jim Brydenstein and Gwynn Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX.
Immediately after 16.00 hours the astronauts got into the cars of Tesla with the numbers L8RERTH. They said goodbye to their family and started the journey to the launch pad, which took about 20 minutes.
This is the first flight of the dragon crew’s mission, as NASA calls it. In May there was a demonstration expedition with two NASA astronauts, Robert Banken and Douglas Hurley, on board. The launch of Endeavour was the first launch into orbit by an American space shuttle crew after the decommissioning of NASA in 2011. His return was also the first landing on the water by astronauts aboard an American spacecraft since the Apollo capsules stopped flying in the 1970s.
NASA is counting on Russian Soyuz rockets to bring its astronauts to the space station. This system is becoming more and more expensive and costs more than 90 million dollars per chair.
Astronauts Soichi Noguchi (left), Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins before launch at Cape Canaveral. The loan… Joe Skipper/Raiter.
Crew 1 consists of four astronauts:
Michael S. Hopkins, 51, a colonel in the U.S. Space Forces, is the flight commander. (Kunel.) Hopkins is also the first member of the new American space force to go into space). He was one of the nine astronauts selected by NASA in 2009. It had already completed a mission to the International Space Station in 2013 and 2014 and had spent 166 days in orbit.
Shannon Walker, 55, occupied a space station in 2010. Dr. Walker holds a PhD in space physics from Rice University, where she studied the interaction between the solar wind and the Venusian atmosphere.
Soichi Noguchi, 55 years old, an astronaut with the Japanese space agency JAXA, will make his third space flight. He was part of the crew of Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005 when the shuttle was first launched after losing Colombia and its seven astronauts more than two years earlier.
During this visit to the International Space Station, Dr. Noguchi carried out three space walks. These include test methods developed to repair the damage to the thermal tiles of the Shuttle, similar to the methods that caused Colombia’s death when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. In 2009 and 2010 she spent five months in orbit with the crew of the space station.
Victor Glover, 44 years old, who was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013, will make his first space flight. He’ll be the first black NASA astronaut to join the crew of the space station.
A loan… C.J. Gunther/EPA, through Shatterstock.
In the 20 years of living at the International Space Station, the extended crew has never taken a black astronaut with them. Victor J. Glover, a naval commander and test pilot who joined the astronaut corps in 2013, will be the first.
Since its foundation, the International Space Station has gone through many other phases: It welcomed the world’s first space traveler, had the first female commander, and experienced the transition from transporting American astronauts through NASA’s space shuttle program to using the SpaceX spacecraft.
But Glover’s achievement is remarkable for NASA, which has tried to shed light on the hidden figures in its history, but so far has only sent 14 black Americans into space out of a total of more than 300 NASA astronauts.
He won’t be the first black astronaut at the station. Those who came before him from NASA, however, were members of the space shuttle crew during the construction of the station and stayed only briefly at the outpost.
Glover and three other astronauts will launch the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule on Sunday and are expected to be aboard the station for approximately six months.
Next year he could be followed by Jeanette Epps, who will be the first black woman to join the I.S.S. team… It will fly on board the first operational crew of the Boeing Starliner capsule. (In 2018 she was removed from the plane and replaced by Serena Aunyon-Cansignor).
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps. A loan… NASA…
NASA first involved black Americans in astronaut training in the 1960s when Ed Dwight, an Air Force test pilot, became an astronaut candidate. But he’s never been in space. Mistletoe S. Bloford, Jr. became the first black American in space in 1983 aboard the space shuttle Challenger; May Jamison was the first black woman in 1992.
Sunday’s launch follows a summer of racial and social unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man, by Minneapolis police. When he was asked on Monday at a press conference what he thought of the historiography, Glover nodded modestly.
It is something to celebrate as soon as we do, and I am honored to be in this position and be part of this great experienced team, he said. And I look forward to going there and doing everything in my power to make us worthy of all the work done in preparing for this mission. You know, unlike the elections – the past, the withdrawals – this mission is still ahead of me. Then let’s go, and I’ll talk to you when I’m on board.
In the summer, Dr. Glover answered a question about the social networks that astronauts in space strictly adhere to.
Actually, no, he said on Twitter. Don’t forget who’s involved in space travel. People. By fighting extreme weather and pandemic diseases, we will understand and overcome racism and fanaticism, so that we can travel safely together in space. Thank you for asking.
This week he also told the Christian Chronicle, the publication of the Churches of Christ, that this step was both bitter and sweet.
Before me there were extraordinary colleagues who could really do it, and there are extraordinary people who will stand behind me, said Mr. Glover. I wish that had already happened, but I try not to pay too much attention to it.
Charles F. Bolden Jr., who served as NASA administrator under President Barack Obama, said Glover should not be burdened by the weight of history.
Some of us have had the opportunity to talk to him regularly and try to help him relax and understand that he does not carry the weight of the world, said Bolden, who is also black and has spent almost 700 hours in space as a NASA astronaut. He shouldn’t feel unusually responsible because he’s black. He should just be another member of the crew and have fun.
Mr. Glover is married to Dion Odom and they have four children.
Born in Pomona, California. Mr. Glover received a Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering from California Polytechnic University in 1999. Between 2007 and 2010 he obtained three master’s degrees: Flight Test Engineering, Systems Engineering and Military Operations Arts and Sciences.
His colleagues often call Mr. Glover Ike and nod at the call sign the former commander gave him, which means I know everything.
If the launch is scheduled for Sunday, the pilot’s crew will dock at the International Space Station at 23.00 hours Monday. Eastern time.
The launch takes place when the orbit of the space station passes over the launch pad. However, it takes several hours for the capsule to overtake the space station, which travels at more than 17,000 miles per hour. As soon as the capsule approaches the station, the on-board computer will perform a series of manoeuvres to bring it safely near the outpost. It is then carefully moored in one of the harbours on the station so that the astronauts can enter.
Even after mooring, the astronauts need clocks to ensure there are no leaks and to even out the pressure between the two spaceships before the hatch is opened, so that the new occupants can finally enter the space station. This will take place on Tuesday at approximately 1:40 am and the astronauts will perform a short landing ceremony with the current station crew.
Astronauts land on the space station for a month, which means 20 years of uninterrupted life in space. You join the three other astronauts already out there: Kate Rubins of NASA and two Russians, Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov.
In a space station, they do what the astronauts have been doing for the past two decades: observing scientific experiments, carrying out maintenance work, talking to students on the ground.
For example, astronauts will collect their own biological samples to help scientists on Earth study how dietary changes affect the body. Astronauts will also grow radishes, the latest experiment to investigate the possibility of growing food in space. (Red lettuce and green mustard from the mizzen stomach were among the first foods studied by astronauts). They will also test whether fungi can extract rocks from asteroids and help to extract useful metals, a scientific prelude to extraterrestrial mining and a similarly successful bacterial experiment later.
Delays in the completion of the crew of SpaceX Dragon and another capsule built by Boeing Starliner have often limited the number of astronauts on board the station at any given time in recent years. With seven astronauts on board, there will be more hands on deck for research and service tasks. The largest number of astronauts on board is 13.
In the past, NASA has led the construction and operation of its own passenger spacecraft, from the first Mercury capsules to the Apollo capsules that flew to the Moon and the Space Shuttle. But it was expensive.
By choosing a commercial supplier, NASA hopes to save money and stimulate the development of new space companies, as SpaceX can sell the Dragon capsule space to non-NASA customers. (NASA has also selected another private company, Boeing, whose first flight with the capsule’s passengers has been postponed until next year).
This week NASA and SpaceX have completed a certification process that has resulted in a space agency seal of approval stating that SpaceX meets the requirements for regular use of NASA astronauts in orbit.
The Dragon Crew capsule has about the same interior space as the SUV, which can feel a little cramped during a 19-hour flight. The loan… Joel Cowski/NASA, through Associated Press…
Crew Dragon is a rubber capsule – an improved version of the original SpaceX Dragon capsule, which was widely used for transporting goods. It is about the same size as the Apollo capsule that was used to bring NASA astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. NASA capsules – mercury and twins – used to be much smaller.
According to SpaceX, the crew of the dragon can be configured for seven seats. The capsule has about the same number of seats as a sports car. As you can probably imagine, you and six of your friends may be able to make a journey that will last a few hours, but probably not much longer. There’s a bathroom.
NASA is controlled by four astronauts simultaneously.
The interior is much more sophisticated than that in which the NASA astronauts were located 50 years ago, and even smoother than that of the space shuttles. Much more computing power is now available, so the buttons and controllers used in older spaceships have been replaced by touchscreens.
If you think you can manage the Dragon crew yourself, SpaceX provided a web-based version of the system that the NASA astronauts would use if they had to shut down the ship’s automatic systems. Some YouTube users have explained how to actually do docking.
Astronauts Robert Banken and Douglas Hurley cross their fingers after returning to Earth in August in the capsule of the dragon crew. The loan… NASA about Getty Images
The flight that took off on the 31st. The month of May started, went almost without error.
Initially it was supposed to take just one or two weeks and focus on testing the Crew Dragon systems, but due to years of delay in launching commercial systems, the space station was understaffed.
The two astronauts who took part in the demonstration flight, Robert Banken and Douglas Hurley, eventually spent just over two months at the space station as short-term crew members, helping with maintenance and scientific experiments.
They’re splattering on 2. August in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida to avoid a tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean, but not a flotilla of small boats with curious people sailing around the capsule as it winds in the water.
Later, SpaceX discovered that the heat shield of the dragon crew had been eroded more than expected during the stormy return to the atmosphere that all passenger vehicles had to endure. NASA and SpaceX said the damage was not a threat to the spacecraft or the astronauts, but that some modifications had been made to the Crew-1 capsule to prevent it from reproducing.
NASA also extended Crew-1’s initial launch date to early November after a problem with the Falcon-9 motors was identified.
NASA administrator Jim Brydenstein has declared that he will not remain in his position in the Biden administration. The loan… Red Huber/Getty Pictures…
The election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the next president of the United States is expected to lead to changes in some NASA programs and in the American space concept. But the commercial manning programme, where SpaceX and Boeing bring astronauts to the space station, is likely to remain unchanged. The decision to use private companies to put astronauts into orbit was made during the Obama administration, when Biden was vice president.
In an interview with Aviation Week magazine last week, NASA administrator Jim Brydenstin said that after Biden’s inauguration on the 20th. He declared that he would not remain in his current position after January, even though he was asked to do so. Brydenstin was a Republican congressman from Oklahoma before he was injured and survived the battle for Senate approval in 2018.
Biden identified climate change as a major problem for his government and proposed to pay more attention to the Earth Sciences Department of NASA, which studies our planet from orbit. He said very little about NASA in particular.
Brydenstein’s position on climate change was criticised before it was confirmed. But most NASA observers believe that the agency’s leadership, including climate programs, has not been attacked by the federal science programs that characterize Trump’s presidency.
The main civilian goal of the Trump administration – the return of astronauts to the moon by 2024 – is likely to continue for the next four years. But ambitious deadlines, considered unrealistic by many, are being postponed into the future.
Elon Musk visited one of his factories in Germany in September. The loan… Odd Andersen / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images
Alon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, twittered Saturday that he probably had a moderate case of Covid-19.
He made the announcement the day before the launch of four astronauts to the international space station in the Dragon Crew capsule, which his company built for NASA, and after months of doubting the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, including some 245,000 in the United States.
Shortly after midnight Friday morning, Mr. Mask said on Twitter that he had run four rapid antigen tests.
Something’s very wrong, Mr. Mask. Covid’s presence has already been checked four times today. Two negative tests, two positive tests. Same machine, same test, same nurse.
Antigen tests – such as the BD tests used by Mr. Mask – search for pieces of corona protein and are cheap and convenient, and usually give results within minutes. But they are also less reliable than laboratory tests using a method called polymerase chain reaction or P.C.R., which detects fragments of genetic material. These P.C.R.-based tests are widely accepted as the gold standard in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. At least one of those tests seems to confirm Mr. Mask’s infection on Saturday.
Musk also twittered on Sunday that he had mild symptoms of Covid-19 last week, but didn’t feel sick anymore, probably partly because he was taking over-the-counter medication.
Yeah, I feel pretty normal. No symptoms yet. Last week I had the symptoms of a mild cold. I had a bad flu or a bad cold, but it was mild and hopefully over.
– Elon mask (@elonmusk) 15. November 2020
Antigen tests are only permitted within the first few days after the onset of symptoms and may be less effective in asymptomatic individuals.
On Friday and Saturday, Mr. Mask tweeted again to question the validity of tests based on P.C.R. technologies and asked his supporters to educate him on whether diagnostic tools can produce false positive results.
The saliva sample sent to the P.C.R. came back positive, Mask said early Saturday morning. The number associated with a positive result, the so-called cycle threshold, also showed that Mr. Maske probably tolerated moderately high levels of the virus in his body. According to federal guidelines, Mr. Musk should be isolated for at least 10 days from the moment he first felt sick.
That’s interesting. My saliva sample came back Thursday evening with the N1 gene (unique for cov2) and came in cycle 26 & N3 (regular men) at 24 hours. Tomorrow I’ll get today’s test results. The symptoms are almost gone today, so hopefully the results will be better.
– Elon mask (@elonmusk) 14. November 2020
However, Dr. Mask suggested further testing in the hope of eventually obtaining better results.
Experts who responded to the tweets have repeatedly stated that it is not appropriate to use the test results as a way out of isolation.
Mr. Mask was also delusional when he called the coronavirus a kind of cold. While other coronaviruses can cause common colds, Covid-19 is much more deadly than these mild diseases, and it also caused debilitating symptoms in many survivors months later.
Since the spring, Mr Musk has repeatedly expressed his frustration at the pandemic and its economic consequences, underestimating its seriousness. In May, he openly challenged local regulations regarding the reopening of the Tesla plant in California after district officials ordered its closure, claiming that the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus were too aggressive and violated fundamental human rights. He eventually threatened to remove the company’s headquarters from the state-owned company.
Musk did not say whether he intended to accompany the astronauts, as was the case in May when the SpaceX capsule first tried to put the astronauts into orbit. But NASA Administrator Jim Brydenstin told a press conference Friday that NASA requires self-isolation for anyone who tests positive.