SpaceX creates first private shuttle to the International Station

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SpaceX creates first private shuttle to the International Station

The Crew Dragon shuttle is a private venture, not a public venture, although given major funding from NASA.

The Crew Dragon shuttle is a private venture, not a public venture, although given major funding from NASA.

Inverse

The Crew Dragon shuttle is a private venture, not a public venture, although given major funding from NASA.

Inverse

Inverse

The Crew Dragon shuttle is a private venture, not a public venture, although given major funding from NASA.

Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

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As of 2011, NASA retired their line of space shuttles. This means that American astronauts rely on the Russian Soyuz to travel to space. In 2014 this caused NASA to give Boeing $4.2 billion to create the CST-100 Starling, they also gave Elon Musk’s company SpaceX $2.6 billion to develop the Crew Dragon because NASA did not want to continue relying on Russia to send American astronauts to the moon. The Crew Dragon is the solution to this problem, not the private shuttles to Mars, SpaceX’s other major project.

The Crew Dragon is the first of its kind to be developed. The shuttle is the first American space craft to automatically dock at the International Space Station, is the only commercial shuttle to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, and is the only space craft with the ability to return cargo to Earth. The shuttle will also be free flying, meaning it will be autonomous, but on-board astronauts have the ability to monitor and control the shuttle when necessary.

SpaceX
The sleek interior of the Crew Dragon has room for up to seven people.

When the shuttle launches for the International Space Station, it leaves from the Kennedy Space center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., the launch site for all of NASA’s missions to the moon as well as shuttles to the International Space Center.

The development of the shuttle has not been simple for SpaceX, but there have been more triumphs than challenges. The major challenge in the shuttle’s development occurred in April of 2019 when the shuttle exploded during a test. The shuttle failed the launch-abort engines test, which is designed to test a rocket’s system in response to an emergency during the launch or as the rocket is in flight. According to NBC, the failure caused a great concern for the human tests that had been scheduled for later in the year.

The astronaut trials have been pushed back due to the launch failure, as the company had to ensure the problem was solved. According to Musk and NASA officials at a headquarters vent October 10, astronaut tests, Demo 2, should be expected in the first quarter of next year, from January to March 2020.

On the other hand, recently many improvements have been made. The shuttle passed 13 Mark 3 parachute tests and the SuperDraco thrusters, which power the escape system, were successfully added October 29, as shown on the SpaceX official Twitter.

The technology to take humans to the International Space Station is becoming more complex. The continued developments are making the shuttle more complex and more efficient. Once the Crew Dragon is fully operational, the U.S. Space Program will be autonomous once again.