At the end of May 2020, almost the entire planetwatched an important historical event. It was then that the American astronauts flew to the International Space Station not as usual, inside the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They went into low-earth orbit inside the Crew Dragon capsule, which was developed in their homeland by private company SpaceX. This was the first step towards removing from Roscosmos, which demanded $ 85 million from NASA for each mission, although the cost of flights is equal to 5 million. Yesterday evening, August 2, 2020, the second step was taken - after a 64-day stay on the ISS, the astronauts successfully returned to Earth inside the same Crew Dragon spacecraft. Now the device needs to be checked for integrity and certified for further flights. And that's it, Roscosmos will lose one of its main sources of income.
Crew Dragon has returned to Earth
The successful landing of the Crew Dragon ship wasdescribed on the website of the NASA aerospace agency. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley spent two months at the international station and breathed fresh air for the first time in a long time after splashdown. Crew Dragon's undocking from the station took place 19 hours before returning to Earth. This time the astronauts used to change the position of the structure so that it descended to a strictly defined point on our planet. They had a choice between seven splash-down sites in Florida, but due to the raging tropical storm Isaias, many options had to be discarded.
In the end, it was decided to lower the ship tocoast of the Florida city of Pensacola. When the structure passed through the planet's atmosphere, NASA employees lost contact with the astronauts for 6 minutes. But this is a common phenomenon, because under the influence of the plasma flowing around the ship, signal transmission is impossible. After some time, the structure landed on the water using four parachutes.
You can find out how the Crew Dragon ship looks from the inside in this article.
The ship's capsule was lifted up witha special elevator and the astronauts were able to open the hatch to greet the greeters. And there were a lot of them, and most of them turned out to be uninvited guests. So, near the slightly burned ship there were private boats, which by their presence prevented the rescue boats from sailing closer to the astronauts. According to representatives of NASA and SpaceX, they were not ready for this and will continue to be more prudent. Not only did the onlookers sailing in could interfere with the rescue of astronauts in case of problems, they also put themselves in danger.
According to SpaceX COO GwynnShotwell (Gwynne Shotwell), after splashing down the capsule, an increased concentration of dinitrogen tetroxide was recorded around it. This substance is used as rocket fuel and is hazardous to human health. Rescuers and astronauts were protected from inhalation of toxic substances, but the people who arrived could be injured. Fortunately, this time there were no incidents, but next time the crash sites should be guarded. And warnings alone cannot be dispensed with, because the coast guard warned the boatmen of the possible danger, but they ignored it and went to the ship anyway.
NASA and Roscosmos
At the moment, the astronauts are underunder medical supervision, and the Crew Dragon capsule, also known as "Endeavor", has been sent for a technical inspection. Researchers will examine the data collected during the flight and decide whether Crew Dragon can be certified for onward flights to the ISS or not. If this happens, then the next flight of astronauts to the space station inside the SpaceX spacecraft will take place in September. The spacecraft is expected to be crewed by three American astronauts and one astronaut from Japan. They will spend six months at the station.
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At the time of this writing, congratulationsexpressed by US President Donald Trump, as well as the heads of SpaceX, NASA and the European Space Agency. But there are no comments from Dmitry Rogozin, General Director of Roscosmos. I wonder how he will answer?