Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, has started 2020 like a house on fire with various tests and missions slated for January alone. The major test will be for the company’s first crewed mission to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of its contract with NASA.
In order to build hype, Musk posted a simulation video on Twitter which showed the astronauts arriving at the Kennedy Space Centre launchpad in a Tesla Model X. They walk up to a jet bridge leading to a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The spacecraft will be sent into orbit atop a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
After a 2-stage separation, the small capsule will be in space for a day or two before it locates the ISS and latches itself onto the docking port. The astronauts will stay in space at the ISS for 6 months. When their mission is done, the capsule will unlatch itself from the docking port and bring them back to earth.
SpaceX’s next test will be the Inflight Abort (IFA) test which will be to demonstrate the company’s ability to eject the capsule and its passengers from the rocket in case anything misfires. SpaceX will send a crewed mission to orbit in the first half of this year if everything goes according to plan.
Rival company, Boeing sent its own spacecraft to orbit, but it was called off due to a clock problem that sent it off course. NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing contracts in order to bring back crewed missions to the USA after years of relying on Russia. Both SpaceX and Boeing are behind schedule.