"The historic step in restoring a manned flight program from the United States" – this is how the test flight of the Space Dragon spacecraft of the American SpaceX, linked to the International Space Station (ISS), is estimated in America. For the first time since 2011, when the Shuttle program was closed, a manned spacecraft was sent from space into the United States, which could take 7 astronauts on board.
SpaceX was founded in California in 2002 by Ilon Mask, who last year sent a Falcon Heavy rocket to Mars, who had to launch a Tesla race car with a dummy in a space suit in the orbit of the Red Planet. On board of the Crew Dragon spacecraft that was launched to the ISS, there was also an astronaut's in the SpaceX suit (named Ripley after Sigourney Weaver of the alien movie epic) and 190 kilos (190 kg) payloads and equipment for the international crew of the station. Robot, more precisely, a.t.d. – Ripley & # 39; s "anthropomorphic test device" is not an extravagant "appendix" to the expedition, it is equipped with a multitude of sensors, so that the earth has an idea of the loads that a person can experience if he is in the position of a dummy.
The new spacecraft, made entirely by private companies, was launched last Saturday from the Kennedy Center space center in Cape Canaveral, from the same launch platform 39A, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the shore. After 10 minutes the ship had already been launched into orbit around the earth and on Sunday the dragon was successful in the ISS (there was a live broadcast on NASA) and the crew of the station (American Ann McLain, Canadian David St. Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko) successfully tested the remote control ship management. And it would have to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida on March 8, whence the start was given.
If all goes well, the company will again have an important test flight without people in June. The Falcon 9 rocket will take a capsule to the upper atmosphere, after which a missile failure will be simulated and the alarm system will be checked. And then, in July, a Dragon flight with two astronauts on board was on the program. The first test flight of a spacecraft created by Boeing, CTS 100 Starliner without crew, is scheduled for April and in case of success in August, with astronauts on board.
America triumphs, experts call it & # 39; back to space. On the eve of the launch, head of NASA, Jim Brydenstein, solemnly announced to journalists: "We are on the eve of launching American astronauts on US missiles from the US." Brydenstein said he was "100% certain" that the flights of Dragon and Starliner would take place this year as planned. But many officials warn that because the program is still in the test phase, the schedules are subject to change.
Astronaut Douglas J. Hurley, who will conduct the first SpaceX test flight with humans, called the exploitation of the new American spacecraft "very exciting". "I can not even tell you how exciting it is for a test pilot to make the first flight of a vehicle," Hurley told reporters.
And Ilon Musk, after a successful launch, said that the flight was the culmination of 17 years of incredibly hard work and sacrifice.
After the spaceship "Dragon" was separated from the rocket, Musk said he had contacted Hurley and Robert L. Bencken, another NASA astronaut who would board the SpaceX first test flight. "I asked what they thought of the upcoming flight, the answer was positive." It is remarkable that the reader of the microblog Mask from Russia Katya Pavlushchenko (Pavlyushchenko?) Congratulated the entrepreneur on the successful mooring and doubted whether Mask would be congratulated by the company Roscosmos and his head Dmitry Rogozin. Mask wrote the girl in response in Russian: "Thank you for your kind words." "Roskosmos" congratulated the partners, but NASA, not Mask, and reminded that "flight safety must be impeccable". Docking and landing Musk mentions the most important moments of the Crew Dragon flight, so that only half of the work has been done so far.
The era of commercial space exploration, which Americans have been talking about for so long, is the lack of resources to create a "national missile". to build instead of shuttles. In 2014, the Aeronautics and Space Exploration Agency entered into contracts worth $ 6.8 billion from SpaceX and Boeing for the development of spacecraft that could bring up to four astronauts to the station in one go. At the same time, NASA continued to launch probes and robots in the distant space and even delivered the InSight spacecraft to Mars. But the inability of their own troops to send astronauts into space defeated the prestige of the agency, which was proud to have defeated the Soviet Union in the space war of the Cold War, sending astronauts to the moon. Now that relations between the two countries have again deteriorated, the "humiliating backlog" has become a political issue.
NASA found it annoying to hear accusations that an American astronaut could deliberately destroy the ISS panels with a drill, so the expedition could be brought home early (presumably to cure an NASA astronaut). Then, in an interview with ABC News, the commander of the ship, Drew Fustel, denied the version that the Americans reportedly had drilled a hole: "I can certainly say that the crew did not." It is a shame for those who spend their time waste by telling us that we participated in something like that. "
But then we were told that the Americans were not to blame. And the head of the state-owned company of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, joked jokingly to check if the Americans were on the moon.
"We have done such a task – fly to check: were they or not, they say they were, we'll check it out."
According to US media, the price of a "ticket" for an American astronaut aboard the Russian Union after 2011 (more than 8 years) has risen from $ 25 to $ 81.7 million. In total, America has spent about $ 100 billion on the international space station. Russia, according to the head of the Scientific and Technical Council of Roscosmos, Yury Koptev, is 10 times smaller. This source of income – "tariff in space" from Americans – will end in the future. Although according to the New York Times, referring to sources in NASA, as test flights with the crew on board this year does not take place, Americans can buy a large number of seats on the Russian Soyuz vessels. The work of astronauts on board the ISS at NASA is still regarded as a very important part of space research.
Cooperation in space remained almost the last strong thread in relations between the two countries, despite sanctions and hostile propaganda. But history shows that scientific cooperation is inevitably a hostage for politicians and politicians. Here, given the current state of affairs, the prospects for a new joint project (which has become Soyuz-Apollo in the last century) look blurred. Experts believe that commercial "space tourism" in the future will become an area where Russia, the United States and other space powers will compete, will not cooperate. Well, the dreamer & # 39; Ilon Musk will continue to prepare expeditions for the colonization of Mars.