On February 6, 2018 SpaceX successfully launched CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space as the dummy payload for their Falcon Heavy test flight. The electric sports car has since become an artificial satellite of the Sun and has provided the company much needed data for current and future space exploration. Used that data along with even more they were able to successfully launch a NASA crew into space to dock with the International Space Station on their Dragon spacecraft.
The Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit, and beyond. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth, and became the first private spacecraft to take humans to the space station.
SpaceX targeted Saturday, May 30 for Falcon 9’s launch of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration (Demo-2) mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This test flight with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board the Dragon spacecraft returned human spaceflight to the United States.
The crew will dock to pressurised mating adapter PMA-2 on the Harmony module of the ISS on 31 May 2020. With Hurley and Behnken expected to work alongside the crew of Expedition 63 for 30 to 90 days, meaning the landing of the spacecraft will occur no later than 28 August 2020.
Upon conclusion of the mission, Crew Dragon will autonomously undock with the two astronauts onboard the spacecraft and depart the Space Station. After jettisoning the trunk and conducting its deorbit burn, which lasts approximately 12 minutes, Dragon will reenter Earth’s atmosphere.
Upon splashdown just off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Dragon and the astronauts will be quickly recovered by SpaceX’s Go Navigator recovery vessel and returned to Cape Canaveral.
With the success of this mission comes the possibility for more civilians to explore space and possibly colonize our Luna Moon, Mars and the cosmos.