Space-X Launches Manned Spacecraft

Endeavor Blast Off

On May 30, 2020, Space-X crew capsule Endeavor was launched from Cape Kennedy: destination the International Space Station. The crew returned on August 2, 2020. The mission marked the first U.S. launched man space flight in nine years, and the first on a privately built and funded rocket and space capsule.

When the United States retired the Space Shuttle, it lost its only launching method for human-crewed flight. For nine years, the U.S. had to rely on Russian launch vehicles to send astronauts into space. Space X, which had been founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to lower the cost of space travel, had developed a reusable launch vehicle called the Falcon 9 and a crew rated spacecraft called Dragon 2. Space-X was under contract with NASA to fly cargo resupply missions to the Intneratnaion Space Station. As of the summer of 2020, it had launched 20 uncrewed missions successfully to the I.S.S.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 had allocated $1.3 Billion for the Commercial Crew Development Program. Four companies received money to develop spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to the I.S.S under terms of the program. Boeing and Space X were the only ones to receive full funding for the project. Space X received a $2.6 Billion allocation, and the Boeing received $4.2 Billion. The Space X Dragon has a 390 Cubic foot pressurized cabin and can accommodate up to seven astronauts.

After several unmanned tests, Space-X was ready first to launch a human-crewed mission. On May 30, 2020, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken became the first NASA astronauts to be launched on a privately built spacecraft. The mission was launched from Complex 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The space capture was renamed Endeavor. The next day on May 31, Endeavor successfully docked with the I.S.S.

On August 2, 2020, Endeavor undocked and made a successful reentry and splash-down in the Gulf of Mexico.