SpaceX has successfully launched 4 astronauts in a Falcon 9 rocket, at 5:57 am IST of 14th November, as part of its Commercial Crew Program with NASA. In fact, SpaceX has also started doing public beta testing for its internet providing, Starlink satellites. Let’s see Elon Musk’s space plans in depth now.
Crux of the Matter
SpaceX Crew-1 Mission
Four astronauts, NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi were launched to the International Space Station, ISS. The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, with the Crew Dragon capsule, lifted off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, last Sunday.
This launch comes months after Demo-2, Crew Dragon’s first human test flight, was successfully launched on 31 May with 2 astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
What’s Special About This Launch?
This is the first crew rotation flight of SpaceX spacecraft after NASA certified it for regular flights to the ISS, as part of its Commercial Crew Program. Musk could monitor this from afar this time as he tweeted that he “most likely” had a moderate case of Covid-19.
Who Is Resilience?
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, Resilience, is named by astronauts in dedication of the teams involved with the mission, during this year’s toughest times of Covid-19.
When Will They Return?
It is scheduled to be the longest human space mission (6 months) launched from the US. The astronauts will stay aboard the orbiting laboratory to conduct scientific experiments and will return in spring 2021.
What Are The Mission Objectives?
Among the science and research investigations the crew will perform a study, using chips with tissue, that mimics the structure and function of human organs. This will help them understand the role of microgravity on human diseases and and translate those findings to improve human health on Earth.
They shall also grow radishes in different types of light and soils as part of ongoing efforts to produce food in space. Moreover, they will test a new system to remove heat from NASA’s next-generation spacesuit, the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU).
SSS – SpaceX’s Starlink Service
SpaceX is sending out email invitations titled “Better Than Nothing Beta”, for public beta testing of Starlink, their upcoming satellite internet service. As per Ars Technica, in order to participate, users must purchase the Starlink ground equipment for $499, and then pay a $99 monthly fee for active service. An iOS and Android mobile app have also been released, to help beta users set up and manage the service.
What’s The End Goal?
Currently SpaceX has about 900 Starlink satellites in orbit. Since May 2019, SpaceX has been launching Starlink satellites in batches of about 60, with the goal of creating a megaconstellation which shall consist of thousands of small, broadband-beaming satellites. This network will provide global internet coverage from space. However NASA seems to have objected to this idea, in lieu of the increasing space clutter.
- Buzz Lightyear is a fictional character in the Toy Story franchise. Buzz Lightyear’s name was in honor of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second person to walk on the Moon.
- The Martian is a 2011 science fiction novel written by Andy Weir. The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars in 2035 and must improvise in order to survive.
- The Celestri Multimedia LEO System was a planned Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, which was intended to offer global, low-latency broadband Internet services via Ka-band radio links. It was planned by Motorola in 1997-1998 as one of the earliest “Internet in the sky” constellations.