International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule ‘Endeavour’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Demo 2 Mission

Mains level : Commercial space flights

Two NASA astronauts returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to finish an unprecedented test flight.

We can get a match the pair type question in prelims asking various space missions and their purposes. Make note of similar space missions from here.

Crew Dragon

  • Crew Dragon is a part of the Dragon 2, a class of reusable spacecraft developed and manufactured by American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.
  • It is the fifth class of US spacecraft to take human beings into orbit, after the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
  • The rocket, named Falcon 9, which carried the spaceship into the orbit, was also built by SpaceX.
  • It is done under the Demo-2 Mission of NASA and SpaceX.

Demo-2: What is the mission?

  • The Demo-2 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program with the aim of developing reliable and cost-effective access to and from the ISS.
  • Essentially, the lift-off is a flight test to certify if SpaceX’s crew transportation system can be used to ferry crew to and from the space station regularly.

What makes it a special event?

  • It was the first splashdown by U.S. astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit.
  • The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz.
  • The return clears the way for possible tourist flights in the near future.

Back2Basics: SpaceX

  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp., trading as SpaceX, is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation Services Company headquartered in Hawthorne, California.
  • It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars.
  • It has developed several launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft.
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