Space X’s Crew Dragon makes contact… and history

This is the first time that astronauts have been sent to the ISS from American soil since 2011, and the first time ever that a private company has done it
crew dragon The Space X Crew Dragon docking with the ISS yesterday. (NASA/SpaceX)


On May 30, a rocket sent astronauts into orbit, headed toward the International Space Station (ISS). It's the kind of thing that we accept as routine, right? Astronauts are always going up and coming down from the space station every few months. Business as usual.

But this launch was different. And it was most certainly not business as usual. When the two astronauts—Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley—on board Space X's Crew Dragon capsule docked with the ISS, they made history. And brought a huge part of the American space program back to, well, America.

Here is what changed yesterday.

Rockets from Russia

Embed from Getty Images

A Russian Soyuz rocket launches from Kazakhstan. (Getty Embed)

For decades, American astronauts were launched into space from American soil. But that came to a close in 2011, after NASA stopped using the Space Shuttle, the vehicle that launched rockets into space. It was getting too old and expensive to run. And the United States didn't have a replacement.

Instead, they turned to their former space rivals, now space partners—Russia.

Russia's Soyuz rockets became the new vehicles for sending astronauts to the ISS. The rockets launched from Kazakhstan, and they weren't cheap either. NASA paid $80 million a seat to send one of its astronauts into space!

Back in the USA

Almost there! The Crew Dragon in the shadow of the ISS on May 31. (NASA)

To solve the problem, NASA started its Commercial Crew program.

NASA used to control and produce all of their rockets and space vehicles. Commercial Crew asked private companies to build vehicles for NASA to use. Why?

One, it lowers costs for NASA. Someone else builds the vehicles, which then NASA pays to use.

Two, it creates competition to build the very best vehicle. In this case, the two biggest players have been Elon Musk's Space X and Boeing. Boeing's vehicle—called the Starliner—has met with some early failures.

But Space X has done much better. And last weekend, they proved it was ready to launch.

Enter the Crew Dragon

The Crew Dragon approaching as seen from cameras on the ISS. (NASA)

For years, Space X's Cargo Dragon has been delivering goods to the ISS. But it was just cargo. The Crew Dragon was their first vehicle to send humans into space.

From the outside, it looks similar to the capsule of the past. But inside, it is state-of-the-art—touch screens, climate control, a toilet, and even specially designed suits. And much like the self-driving cars of Tesla (the auto company also owned by Elon Musk), the Crew Dragon uses cameras and other sensors to dock with ISS all by itself.

If you missed it, you can watch it dock in the video below.

Future of space travel

A lot of people were excited about yesterday's launch. It means that America no longer needs to depend on the Soyuz. It will also potentially mean new jobs for people who live in the US. But there's another interesting wrinkle.

Before, national space agencies like NASA or the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) completely controlled space flight. The only way to go to space was to become an astronaut. But companies like Space X and Boeing want to do more than just send astronauts into space.

They want to sell tickets to members of the public so that they can experience space travel, too.

Space X is building Starship, which is made for just that. If this ever happens, you can bet that those tickets will be very, very expensive. But it would be a huge change to how humans go to space.

And yesterday's successful launch made sending everyday citizens into orbit that little bit closer to being a reality.


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  1. This article really wowed me! Knowing that one day maybe we can all go to space is freakishly amazing! :D. This article really interested me because I love learning new things, and I love space in general. I wanted to learn more about SpaceX’s Starship, so I did some research. I found out that there was a test run for the launching of the Starship (SN4). Sadly, it exploded shortly after SpaceX ignited the engine. The explosion happened on Friday, May 29, 2020, at 1:49 EDT, in Boca Chica, Texas. This is the fourth prototype that SpaceX has lost. After this disaster, Elon Musk told Aviation Week that SpaceX planned to put a pause to things related to the Starship.“I have redirected SpaceX’s priorities to be very focused on the crew launch,” Elon Musk told Aviation Week during a podcast interview. Here is a website on more information about the Starship:
    https://www.theverge.com/2020/5/29/21274931/spacex-starship-prototype-rocket-explosion-static-fire-test

  2. I liked this article because it explained the journey of Crew Dragon in a very short summary. Now as Crew Dragon had a successful flight this now indicates that we have entered the moon, mars generation where we can explore the universe in a much cheaper and efficient way. Now, the crew dragon only costs only $23 million dollars per seat which is $57 million dollars less than the Soyuz rockets. I also researched the starship and sadly it exploded shortly after SpaceX ignited the engine. The explosion happened on Friday, May 29, 2020, at 1:49 EDT, in Boca Chica, Texas. This were the four prototypes that Elon musk has lost. but SpaceX is still engineering their 5th prototype with 3 more raptor engines this would be the test vehicle to attempt a high-altitude (20 km) test flight. If this mission is successful Space X will use it to build a human colony on Mars and use it for commercial uses so this is a very exciting generation for space exploration.

  3. This is an amazing breakthrough! Knowing that we can all go to space is exiting! The Crew Dragon made it to the ISS without getting hit with space debris and launched from Amarican soil since 2011! I think this is a big step for mankind as in the next 100 years we could maybe build a spaceship thats reusable and gets us to the far ends of our solar system and if we can colonize them we could have more powerful fuel sources.

  4. This article just amazed me. Many kids dream of going to space and the fact that now anyone can go to space is just mind-blowing. For decades, American astronauts were launched into space from American soil, but this is the first time that astronauts have been sent to the ISS from American soil since 2011, and the first time ever that a private company has done it! That’s just crazy to think about! This is a big step for future generations because each and every year the world becomes more advanced when it comes to technology. So in the future, we may be able to figure out how to make reusable rockets. THAT’S CRAZY!!

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