US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will dock to the International Space Station ( ISS) in the next hour.
After their launch on a Falcon-9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, the men are making their way up to the orbital platform.The Nasa crew now fly in a Dragon capsule supplied and run by a private firm, SpaceX-a first in human spaceflight history.They are due to attach their ship to
the ISS at around 14:30 GMT (15:30 BST).It’ll be a fully automated procedure; unless there’s a problem, Hurley and Behnken won’t need to interfere.Under the station, the vessel will come up and maneuver to a docking port on the bow section.The astronauts will be able to disembark and join the Russian-American crew already on board the
ISS once the hooks have sealed the Dragon in place and the pressure checks are complete.
Hurley and Behnken have been given a good sleep time to prepare them for the activities on Sunday.But they carried out what has become a tradition among US spacefarers-naming their ship before signing off.This tradition goes back straight to the early 1960s Mercury capsule program.The two men said that they
should name their Dragon “Capsule Endeavour” Hurley radioed to Earth: “For a few reasons, we chose Endeavour: one, because of this amazing effort that Nasa, SpaceX and the US have been on since the shuttle program ended back in 2011.”The other reason is Bob and I are a little more personal.We both had our first flights on the Endeavour shuttle and it just meant so much for us to carry that name on.
Shuttle Endeavour, retired nine years ago with the rest of Nasa’s orbiter fleet, was named after HMS Endeavour,
the British explorer James Cook’s research ship on his late 18th century trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Hurley’s “incredible endeavor” is the effort to market low-Earth orbit (LEO).
The goal is to turn routine space operations just above the planet into the private sector; to have the routine
crew and cargo transportation handled by private interests such as SpaceX, the California outfit set up by tech billionaire Elon Musk.
It is already recognized that the agile and innovative approach of SpaceX to the development
of rocket and capsule technology saved Nasa billions of dollars when set against old procurement standards.
The US Space Agency no longer wants to own LEO vehicles; it simply wants to buy the “transportation facility” it provides American businesses.This should free up financial resources that can instead be diverted to the
much more complex-and much more costly-task of getting astronauts back to the Moon.As it is known, the Artemis program aims to place Nasa astronauts again on the lunar surface in 2024.”When I took up this role just a few short years ago, our budget at Nasa was about $19bn,” said the agency ‘s president, Jim Bridenstine.”The budget request we were given by President Trump for next
year is $25bn. We ‘re in a great , great position.” He continued: “We haven’t had this much support for space since John F Kennedy, and we’ve got bipartisan support. Everybody wants to see the Artemis programme be successful. Everybody wants to see not just the next man, but the first woman, on the Moon. And that’s what we’re building here.”
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