American Space Agency astronauts Doug Harley and Bob Behnken will be creating history on Wednesday when they launch from the Florida Coast. The pair will trip together to the International Space Station in a rocket capsule and rocket system that will provided by a private company SpaceX. In retrospect, NASA traditionally handles and operates their own space vehicles. However, it gave up its capability in 2011 when they retired the program associated with space shuttles.
NASA will now contract all future transportation to lower Earth orbits to the commercial sector, assuming Wednesday’s flight goes well. “We’re starting a new era in space; it’s an era when space is going to be available to more people than ever before,” explained Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“We envision a future where low-Earth orbit is entirely commercialized, where Nasa is one customer among many customers, and where we have many providers competing on cost, on innovation and safety.”
While SpaceX regularly puts satellites into orbit this will be the first time when SpaceX will take people above the atmosphere. Hurley’s and Behnken’s lift off is scheduled for 16:33 local time (20:33 GMT / 21:33) from the Kennedy Space Center. While it is unclear how long they will be spending on the orbit outpost before they fly home, it is unlikely that the return period will be no less than four months.
If anyone remembers how space shuttles take off in the old days, they will be in for a treat as SpaceX’s launch will be a lot different. While it will be all flashy on the inside, SpaceX has assured us that all the bells and the whistles functions the same way NASA wants them to.
“The end certification process is the same as it’s always been,” observed Garret Reisman, a former Nasa astronaut and consultant to SpaceX.