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Space odyssey: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon safely returns to earth; key takeaways from the mission

Launched into space on May 30 this year, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, marking a successful attempt of the US astronauts visiting the International Space Station (ISS) and returning.

Space odyssey: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon safely returns to earth; key takeaways from the mission
SpaceX is working on the next-generation launch vehicle that could transport people to Moon or Mars in the next 5-10 years

Launched into space on May 30 this year, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, marking a successful attempt of the US astronauts visiting the International Space Station (ISS) and returning. The recent visit to ISS has also indicated a successful demonstration of advanced technology for NASA as well as SpaceX. To be sure, NASA had sent astronauts via a spaceship developed by SpaceX in a partnership. The complete journey has highlighted some key takeaways that will also help for future projects.

According to a report by The Indian Express, NASA had partnered with two private players- SpaceX and Boeing for developing a ride that would send astronauts to space. Ever since the incident in 2011 where NASA’s space shuttle was destroyed, US astronauts went to space via Russian spaceships. However, NASA funding the development of US-based space shuttles is likely to change its course of exploration. The report highlighted that this led to NASA having two options to send astronauts and supplies to the Space Station. From a perspective of mitigating risks, the idea is great and will help in terms of cost.

Another takeaway, according to the report, is that since NASA has recruited two players for building spaceships, the competition in the two private players have led to the implementation of better and latest technology features. The Crew Dragon has touch screen controls for the astronauts along with autonomous docking capability, something that can be expected from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Moreover, unlike any other shuttle that can cause deaths of astronauts if there is malfunctioning in fuel tanks, Crew Dragon has the provision of safety ejecting and landing of the Dragon Capsule where astronauts are present. This would save them from any malfunction caused during the launch. Another takeaway, the report said, is the fact that the cost of space launches is less. With the new partnerships and technology, NASA can save up to one-tenth of the total cost.

Apart from this, this has set-up a mark that would help in travelling to another planet like Mars. SpaceX is working on the next-generation launch vehicle that could transport people to Moon or Mars in the next 5-10 years, the report said. Furthermore, it stressed that this could also be a step in the direction that leads to commercialization of space travel. Since there is a requirement for a significant reduction in cost, the recent launch methods can be used as Falcon-9 (used to launch Crew Dragon) has lowered the cost of launch by 80 per cent and Starship is expected to reduce that cost by 99 per cent.

Ever since NASA started sending astronauts and space shuttles from Earth, it has been using its own means till 2011. After nine years, it is believed that NASA will change the way it has been doing business, as per the report.

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First published on: 03-08-2020 at 15:28 IST