SpaceX began its Crew-2 mission on April 23 and successfully launched astronauts towards the ISS in a repurposed rocket and space capsule. This mission is the final step in NASA̵
Reusable spacecraft are nothing new. In fact, NASA began developing reusable craft while Nixon was in the office, and all the classic space shuttles or ‘space planes’, such as Discovery and Atlantis, were reusable. But interest in reusable craft waned after the Columbia and Challenger disasters. As NASA reduced the frequency of its missions, single-use craft became more cost-effective than reusable systems, which have a long development time.
Watch Crew-2 astronauts check in LIVE from space!
👀 Check out @ SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavor currently on its way to @Space_Station. pic.twitter.com/ajdTjhDnqs
– NASA (@NASA) April 23, 2021
But US government interest has increased in recent years, largely due to the rise of NASA contractors such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. As shuttle launches become more frequent, reusable craft are becoming more cost-effective, which is why NASA plans to use SpaceX’s reusable Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket for future trips to the ISS, and maybe even the moon.
But the Crew-2 mission isn’t just a story about reusable missiles. It is the most diverse SpaceX mission to date, consisting of astronauts from three different countries. It is also the first “commercial crew transfer” as the craft will return to Earth with astronauts who arrived at the ISS during the Crew-1 mission last year.
Astronauts in the Crew-2 mission will arrive at the ISS on Saturday, April 24. After a few days, astronauts on the Crew-1 mission will steal their spaceship to return to Earth. During their six-month stay in space, Crew-2’s astronauts will conduct microgravity tests and study Earth’s atmosphere.