Science & Technology
- 02 May 2020
- 5 min read
Why in News
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and SpaceX are all set for the Demo-2 mission which is scheduled for 27th May, 2020 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.
- Demo-2 Mission will send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
- Under the Mission, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will dock with ISS and then remain there for between one to four months, depending on the time of next mission.
- It is a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is a partnership to develop and fly human space transportation systems.
- SpaceX spacecraft named Crew Dragon will be used to take them into space.
- It will be only the fifth class of US spacecraft to take human beings into orbit, after the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
- It is a high priority mission for the US which is clear by the fact that the mission is being carried out amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
- The mission is a major milestone for SpaceX, which is a private company founded by Elon Musk, who is the founder of Tesla.
- It has established itself as the leader in the private space sector mainly due to its reusable rocket, the Falcon 9.
- NASA classifies the impact of space flight on humans in 5 broad criteria known as 5 Hazards. These are:
- Isolation and confinement
- Distance from Earth
- Hostile/closed environments
- Health Specific Impacts:
- Weightlessness and osteoporosis
- Telomeres get longer during spaceflight
- Decreased body mass and increased folate in orbit
- Spaceflight can Trigger Gene Mutations
Project Mercury (1958-63)
- It was the first US man-in-space program.
- The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were specific:
- To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth.
- To investigate man's ability to function in space.
- To recover both man and spacecraft safely.
Gemini Program (1962-66)
- Designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, it primarily tested equipment and mission procedures and trained astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions.
- Four main goals:
- To test an astronaut's ability to fly long-duration missions (up to two weeks in space).
- To understand how spacecraft could meet and dock in orbit around the Earth and the moon.
- To perfect re-entry and landing methods.
- To further understand the effects of longer space flights on astronauts.
Apollo Program (1963-72)
- It was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth.
- Six of the missions (Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) achieved this goal.
- These missions returned with scientific data and almost 400 kilograms of lunar samples.
- Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to go to the moon. This mission did not land on the moon. It orbited the moon, then came back to Earth.
- Apollo 11 was the first moon landing mission. It landed on 20th July, 1969. The crew of Apollo 11 was Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.
Space Shuttle Program (1981-2011)
- NASA's space shuttle fleet, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, flew 135 missions and helped construct the ISS.
- The spacecraft carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space.
- The final space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended on 21st July, 2011.
- As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the boundaries of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce.