NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made history on Saturday, May 30, after they launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida towards the International Space Station (ISS). The history was two-fold, with it being the first launch from American soil since 2011, as well as being the first time that astronauts were sent into space on a private space ship.
Since 2011, international space agencies, including NASA, have been relying on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, created by the national space agency Roscosmos, to taxi astronauts to and from the ISS for cost reasons.
However, private companies such as SpaceX have now made it affordable for the likes of NASA to launch from home turf once again.
But Roscosmos, the Russian space agency which usually has a respectful relationship with NASA, has downplayed the achievement, implying that the US should have been launching from its own soil all along.
Roscosmos spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said: “We don’t really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“What should have happened a long time ago happened.”
Mr Ustimenko also hit back at US President Donald Trump’s claims the US will be the first back to the Moon and the first nation to put humans on Mars.
Following the successful launch, President Trump said US astronauts would return to the Moon in 2024 “to establish a permanent presence and a launching pad to Mars.”
He added: “And the first woman on the Moon will be an American woman and the first nation to land on Mars will be the United States of America.
“We are not going to be number two anywhere.”
However, Mr Ustimenko disagreed with President Trump, hinting that Russia has something up its sleeve.
He tweeted: “Already this year we will conduct tests of two new rockets and resume our lunar program next year.”
Alexey Pushkov, a member of the upper house of parliament in Russia, also downplayed the US’s achievements.
He said: “This is a flight to the International Space Station, not to Mars.”
However, the US was pleased with its landmark mission.
Speaking to the men from mission control in Houston, Texas, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “The whole world saw this mission and we are so, so proud of everything you’ve done for our country and, in fact, to inspire the world.”
Other firms are also working on creating commercial space travel, such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
SpaceX has gone from strength to strength in its launch capabilities in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, going from 11 rocket launches in 2019 to a proposed 38 in 2020.
However, the Elon Musk-backed firm has no plans to halt its progress and is aiming to launch 70 rockets from its Florida sites by 2023.
Missions will include launching the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, including upping the ante in getting 12,000 Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit.
Source: Read Full Article