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The launch of Crew-2 mission

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    26th Apr, 2021

Four astronauts are sent to the International Space Station (ISS) from Florida through a collaboration program of NASA and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program.

Context

Four astronauts are sent to the International Space Station (ISS) from Florida through a collaboration program of NASA and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program.

Background

  • The Crew-2 mission is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This mission has several firsts, including:
    • First commercial crew mission to fly two international partners
    • First commercial crew handover between astronauts on the space station as Crew-1 and Crew-2 astronauts will spend about five days together on station before Crew-1 returns to Earth
    • First reuse of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on a crew mission –Crew Dragon Endeavour flew the historic Demo-2 mission and the Falcon 9 flew astronauts on the Crew-1 mission
    • First time two commercial crew spacecraft will be docked to station at the same time

Analysis

What is the Crew-2 mission?

  • The mission is second crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and is first with international partners.
  • It is a six-month science mission.
  • Astronauts include two from NASA and two are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission consist a rocket booster that is recycled from a previous spaceflight.
  • The Falcon 9 rocket used in the Crew-2 mission was used to launch the Crew-1 into orbit five months ago. This marks the first time a previously flown rocket booster is re-used in a crewed launch.
  • The latest mission is the second “operational” space station team that was launched by NASA aboard a Dragon Crew capsule.
  • It is also the third crewed flight which is launched into lower Earth orbit under NASA’s fledgling public-private partnership with SpaceX.

What will Crew-2 do at ISS?

  • Crew-2 astronauts will join the members of Expedition 65.
  • They will stay aboard the ISS for six months and will conduct science experiments in low-Earth orbit.
  • Their central focus will be to continue a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies.
    • Tissue Chips are small models of human organs that contain multiple cell types that behave similarly to the human body.
    • These chips can speed up the process of identifying safe and effective drugs and vaccines.
    • Scientists will use these tissue chips in space to study diseases that affect specific human organs.
    • The main advantage is that experiments in space takes lesser times in comparison to earth.

What is the Commercial Crew Program?

  • The main objective of the program is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost to carry the cargo and crew transportation easier.
  • NASA also plans to lower its costs by sharing them with commercial partners by building Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS).

Space Station

  • A space station, also known as an orbital station or an orbital space station, is a spacecraft capable of supporting a human crew in orbit for an extended period of time, and is therefore a type of space habitat.
  • It lacks major propulsion or landing systems.
  • Stations must have docking ports to allow other spacecraft to dock to transfer crew and supplies.
  • As of 2021, one fully operational and permanently inhabited space station is in low Earth orbit: the International Space Station (ISS).
  • China, India, Russia, and the U.S., as well as Bigelow Aerospace and Axiom Space, are all planning other stations for the coming decades.

 Lunar Space Station

  • The Lunar Gateway, or simply Gateway, is a planned small space station in lunar orbit intended to serve as a solar-powered communication hub, science laboratory, short-term habitation module, and holding area for rovers and other robots.
  • Gateway development includes four of the International Space Station partner agencies: NASA, ESA, JAXA, and CSA.
  • Its construction is planned to take place in the 2020s.

Conclusion

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program would open access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, science sector, thus increasing the scope of commercial opportunities.

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