“We made history, a new era begins.” “It’s incredible”. The first comment is that of NASA, the second of Trump, both excited about the launch of Demo-2, the first all-American mission launched since 2011 from US soil. Up to 40 minutes before departure, large black clouds passed menacingly over the launch pad 39 / A of Cape Canaveral, the historic one of the Apollo and Shuttle launches. Then the sky brightened and NASA gave the green light to the first human mission carried out by a private company, Elon Musk’s Space X, to bring two American astronauts into orbit heading to the International Space Station (ISS).
At 21.22 (Italian time) the Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule, in which the two veterans Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, arrived at the base of the launch pad with flaming SUVs, were closed in their science fiction suits designed by a Hollywood costume designer Tesla (Musk-owned company), got up easily in the finally blue sky of Florida. The launch had been suspended on Wednesday 17 minutes after the departure due to bad weather, despite Donald Trump’s presence at the Kennedy Space Center to witness the return of the first stars and stripes crew from the US territory to the space since 8 July 2011, when the Atlantis shuttle flew for the last time. Since then, US astronauts have had to use Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which depart from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan.
There was also Trump
The president and his deputy Pence are also back today to see the launch, only the first lady Melania was missing. Now the two astronauts – Behnken 49, Hurley 53 – have 19 hours of travel ahead of them before hooking up the ISS, about 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley said a few seconds before departure, using the same phrase pronounced by Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961, the first American to fly into space on a suborbital mission with the Freedom 7 capsule of the Mercury program.
The return of the Falcon 9 rocket
About 9 minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 rocket landed perfectly on the floating platform off the coast of Florida. One of the characteristics of Space X, in fact, is the reusability of the carrier, a fact that greatly lowers the costs of the missions. Twelve minutes after the start, the second stage also came off, leaving the Dragon in a waiting orbit at a height of 200 km.
May 30, 2020 (change May 30, 2020 | 9:55 pm)
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