flying to ISS, USA in space after 9 years


“America first” also in space. Again, after 9 years of crossing the desert, of buried national pride, of passes for NASA astronauts bought at a very high price by the Russians. From 21.22 yesterday, with the bombastic start of the capsule mission Crew Dragon of SpaceX, the stars and stripes flag was planted on a new chapter in space exploration with American astronauts who flew into orbit on an American spaceship that took off from American soil.

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Crew Dragon, sled launch on Saturday The postponement for a lightning storm
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli: «After Shuttle and Soyuz we go to space with the SpaceX Crew Dragon»

The eyes of President Trump, guest of honor at the Kennedy Space Center, blazed like the kerosene, methane and oxygen engines of the 70-meter-high Falcon 9 rocket that hoisted itself up into the sky soaring over a sea of ​​fire.

Farewell vetuste Soyuz, farewell steppes of Kazakhstan: the navel of the cosmos becomes Cape Canaveral, the dear old, moving ramp 39-A from where the Apollo and Shuttle missions started, when no one could dispute the cosmic dominance of the States United States of America and NASA, the government agency which, however, this time entrusted and trusted to Elon Musk, South African-Canadian creator of Tesla and SpaceX, the Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon capsule. In his hands not only the skin of two NASA astronauts, but also the revival of the American dream of the space frontier.

Here is the big difference compared to the epic so far written by NASA, the mammoth government body that absorbed 4% of the US GDP to conquer the Moon: here is the first human commercial space flight. Veterans Doug Hurley, 54, married to the highly decorated astronaut Karen Nyberg, a son, Jack, who knows if he dreams of doing what dad and mom do when he grows up, and Bob Behnken, 50: at the controls of the Capsule Crew Dragon are following the international space station on the 28,800 km line which, at an altitude of 400 km, orbits 16 times a day around the Earth. The rendezvous with the ISS is scheduled for 4:29 pm today. Last night the spacecraft that entered history, white, 6 meters high and 9.5 tons heavy, 7 seats and panoramic windows because soon it will also host wealthy tourists as well as the Italian astronauts Parmitano and Cristoforetti, was even visible to the naked eye from Italy, crossed from west to east: there is always no breath when, standing on the ground, you can see spaceships with men and women on board reflecting the rays of the Sun as the Crew Dragon will do until July when it will fall on the planet landing in the Atlantic ocean , another quote from the Apollo. The progression towards the clouds of Falcon 9, of which the first stage was recovered, was magnificent, elegant: Musk wants his creatures to be beautiful, as well as efficient, and he has succeeded this time too. At 8 and a half minutes from take-off, a dinosaur began to float in the cockpit of the Crew Dragon, the toy that Jack had entrusted to his father and which is used to make us terrestrials noticeable that the astronauts are definitely in orbit, in situation of microgravity. Now the tension could be eased a little, everything went well. Even in spite of the lockdown that is noticeable to Trump and Musk. The US president began with an “Incredible” at take-off, then announced to America “the beginning of a new space age: the first woman on the moon will be American and the first will be the United States on Mars.” No, he did not mention Obama, the architect of the innovative alliance between public and private, NASA and SpaceX, but nobody expected it. The president of the Italian Space Agency also spoke about the historic day, Giorgio Saccoccia: “The beginning of a new commercial era for human space flights. There is also the contribution of Italy, thanks to the support provided by the ASI base, Broglio Space Center in Malindi in Kenya, which tracks the flight of the Crew Dragon. Congratulations to NASA, our historical partner for over 50 years ».

The reactions
Luca Parmitano

“Goosebumps”. That is, «goosebumps»: it is the tweet of the ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano after the launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral.

Saccoccia, Asi
It is a historic day for the United States which after 9 years has returned to having autonomous access for astronauts to the International Space Station with the launch of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission, thanks to the public-private partnership between NASA and SpaceX “. So the president of the Italian Space Agency, Giorgio Saccoccia, comments on the launch of the first private spacecraft made by Space X by Elon Musk that brings astronauts selected by NASA to space. This mission, Saccoccia observes, is “a significant step that marks the beginning of a new commercial era for human space flights. There is also Italy’s contribution to this launch, thanks to the support provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) Broglio Space Center base in Malindi, Kenya, which is part of the tracking stations that followed the flight of the Crew Dragon towards the Space Station ». Saccoccia then addresses “a special thanks to all the ASI staff, who guaranteed the opening and operation of the base during this Covid emergency period”. “Above all, I want to congratulate NASA, our historical partner for more than 50 years, for this new milestone”, finally marks the number one of ASI.

Space X’s Crew Dragon started from Cape Canaveral: a new frontier for space is inaugurated». To mark it in a tweet is the Undersecretary to the Prime Minister with responsibility for Space, Riccardo Fraccaro. The Italian base in Malindi is one of the mission’s tracking stations, a great recognition of our excellence in the sector. The space increasingly accessible to all.

Less than 40 minutes from the “Go”, NASA gave green light to the filling of the tanks of the two stages of Falcon 9. Kerosene, methane and oxygen at low temperature pumped at very high pressure in the tanks: an operation that puts the chills and that explains the fear of bad weather, especially the lightning that had made the first attempt slip on Wednesday.

The meteorological situation on Cape Canaveral in Florida was in short what it was: variable, but not too bad and therefore also the summit at 5 pm (Italian time) at the Kennedy Space Center confirmed the “go” despite the threatening presence of cumulonimbus and lightning. The astronauts thus continued the dressing of the suits that were not at all clumsy and reached ramp 39-A aboard a – noblesse oblige – Tesla, another “brand” of the founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk. And at 19.20 the door of the white capsule was closed, the first real adrenaline rush.

Crew Dragon, sled launch on Saturday The postponement for a lightning storm
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli: «After Shuttle and Soyuz we go to space with the SpaceX Crew Dragon»

Much worse was the weather on the Atlantic on the line of the eventual return to emergency of the capsule which after 9 years will allow the United States to dig up pride and send Americans into space aboard an American spaceship departed from American soil. Goodbye, in short, to the very expensive passes requested from 2011 to the Russians and their old Soyuz. And on with the first human commercial flight, a turning point in the history of space exploration.

NASA and the company of Elon Musk they decided to accept the risk and to proceed with the launch anyway, so much so that the president had arrived again Trump accompanied by the first lady Melania.

«We are moving forward with the launch. The weather conditions remain fixed on the 50% possibility of cancellation “, the chief administrator of NASA wrote in a tweet, Jim Bridenstine. Elon Musk has relaunched the tweet in which SpaceX says the capsule had passed all tests.

On board the Crew Dragon NASA veterans Doug Hurley (54 years old) and Bob Behnken (50). Their mission, called Demo2, is the second test of the Crew Dragon capsule, which in March 2019 had made the first unmanned test flight directed to the Space Station.

Last updated: May 31, 00:42


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