Lightning storm over Cape Canaveral, postponed the launch of the Crew Dragon – La Stampa rocket

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From the envoy to New York. The story will have to wait at least until Saturday, assuming that the elements do not decide to go sideways again. It is the day the launch of the Crew Dragon was postponed, which was supposed to bring NASA astronauts back to space on an American rocket yesterday after almost a decade of pause.

President Trump and his deputy Pence had also gone to Cape Canaveral, to see the takeoff of the craft built by the private company SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk. It was to be a symbolic appointment, not only for the opportunities it offered on an economic and technological level, but also to reunite the United States and raise their spirits, on the day they passed the threshold of one hundred thousand deaths from the coronavirus epidemic. The weather conditions, however, got in the way, and lightning storms forced NASA to block the launch 16 minutes after take-off, because the rocket risked being hit by the electric lightning bolts. So Trump has nothing left to do but thank him, go back to Washington and meet everyone for Saturday.

President Obama had decided that the United States had to return to space, after the pause that followed the end of the shuttle missions, to land first over an asteroid, and then to Mars. In 2014 he started the Commercial Crew Program, with which NASA had entrusted to private individuals, allocating 4.2 billion dollars to Boeing and 2.6 billion to SpaceX, in order to build the means by which to return American astronauts to the orbiting station. . Boeing tried with the Starliner, but in December the test flight failed due to a software problem, and everything was postponed to 2021. SpaceX also had its troubles, such as a rocket explosion while trying the system of saving astronauts. But now it is ready, despite yesterday’s postponement, with the Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon capsule. Musk chose the name inspired by “Puff the Magic Dragon”, a song for children suspected of being a hymn to drugs. He did it to respond to the envious, because when the business had started they had commented that where to be “done”, if he thought it would work. The astronauts chosen for the mission are Doug Hurley, a 53-year-old ex-marine, and Bob Behnken, a 49-year-old former Air Force pilot. The two are very good friends, to the point that they met their wives, the astronauts Karen Nyberg and Megan McArthur, while doing the course together to enter NASA.

Trump has decided that he wants to revive the American presence in space for the pride of looking like Kennedy, who had started conquering the moon, and for the great economic, technological and military opportunities it offers. The Apollo missions, after all, had been above all an exceptional driving force for the development of the country’s capabilities. Repeating them now would serve together to revive the US, conquer new spaces, and intimidate rivals such as China and Russia, which are challenging Washington’s global primacy. So the president founded the Space Force, which is the new component of the American armed forces in charge of fighting the “star wars”, and in December 2017 he signed the Space Policy Directive 1, with which he indicated the line to go among the stars. Trump admitted that returning to the moon does not interest him much, because it has already been done, but then corrected the shot, explaining that it would be used to build the base from which to conquer Mars. So on May 14, 2019 he christened the program Artemis, sister of Apollo, to prepare new explorations. The return to Earth of the satellite was anticipated from 2028 to 2024, during the possible second presidential term, with the aim of remaining permanently there and landing on the Red Planet in the 1930s.

To this end, NASA has already awarded $ 579 million to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, 253 to Dynetics, and 135 million to SpaceX, to build the lunar landing module. In total, the Apollo program had cost 136 billion today, while Artemis has so far received just over 20. However, we are just at the beginning, and important contributions will also come from the private sector, which for example aims to exploit space tourism to cash in millions. On April 6, then, the head of the White House signed an executive order to regulate the exploitation of mineral resources outside the Earth, that is Moon and beyond. Everything however depends on this first step of the Dragon, postponed to Saturday.



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