Updated: Jun 18
This is not a painting. This was the launch of Crew Dragon atop SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket on May 30, 2020 at 3:22 pm EDT carrying NASA Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, Florida to International Space Station, with boosters landing back on an autonomous drone-ship named 'Of Course I Still Love You' in middle of the sea while capsule docked with ISS after few hours.
Phew! That was a hell of a sentence.
This was the same launch pad from where Apollo Astronauts went to the Moon, the same pad from where Space Shuttle took off. The same pad where Falcon Heavy did its maiden flight in 2018 carrying Elon Musk's personal red cherry Tesla Roadster Car into orbit between Earth and Mars. Actually, the plan was to crash it on M.A.R.S, but who cares... It's still the coolest thing ever done.
Why was this unique?
This was a first in many aspects. The first time, a Private Company launched Astronauts into space. The first time, a Private Company took Astronauts to ISS. The first-ever commercial flight carrying astronauts.
Mission was Named Demo 2. Demo 1 was a non-crew mission of the Crew Dragon capsule last year. Demo 2 carried Astronauts who performed tests checking on the capsule before NASA certified the capsule for regular flights.
SpaceX was rewarded $3.1 B, years ago to develop a vehicle capable of taking humans to ISS and back. The journey wasn't easy. Failure of Commercial Resupply Mission 7 (the cargo version of Crew Dragon) at launchpad. Last year, a Crew Dragon exploded during testing. But SpaceX strategy is Test, Fail, Fix. And they did it.
“SpaceX is in this for the long haul and, come hell or high water, we are going to make this work” – Elon Musk
Why inspiring for us?
Yes, this was launched in America by an American Company carrying American Astronauts. But it signifies a lot more than that. Ultimately, it's for humanity.
SpaceX's plans are big. Their mission, from day 1, has been making life multi-planetary. Their goal is to establish a self-sustaining city on Mars. And this crew dragon launch is a step towards it. Elon founded SpaceX so that he can get people excited about Space again. He didn't think that he would succeed. The first 3 launches of their first vehicle Falcon 1 failed. He was out of money. But he scrapped parts and somehow got money for the 4th launch. Fortunately, that turned out to be successful. And now we have this amazing company doing incredible things.
Their next big rocket Starship is already in development. Many Prototype Starships have already been tested at Boca Chica, Florida. They are already building a fleet of Starships. They are going to have many failures (prototype SN4 recently exploded), but that's their strategy. Build, test, fail, fix.
SpaceX's President and COO Gwyane Shotwell say, "If they aren't successful in flying humans on Starships in 3 years, it will be major company failure". Do you realize how insane that timeline is? 3 years! Never a space vehicle would have been developed that fast. You can see Starship's development on YouTube Channel NASASpaceFlight. Doing awesome work documenting it.
"Life can't be about solving one sad problem after another. There needs to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to be wake up in morning and be part of humanity." - Elon Musk
There are many problems in the world. Poverty, Hunger, Global Warming. So many people question why should we spend on Space. Because it's inspiring. It's the future. Our civilization isn't going to last here forever. We need to be out there among the Stars, being a Space Fairing Civilization. And the lessons learned can be used to solve problems here. Every advancement made in space helps humans down here too. All the tech you are using, there's a role of at least one Space advancement.
International Space Budget is a fraction of what the world spends on war, for killing each other. Imagine if we began spending that much on Space. Human civilization would advance exponentially.
“Honestly, if I never go to space, that will be okay. The point is to maximize the probable life span of humanity” – Elon Musk
It's time to unite
Strange timing for launch, isn't it? In the middle of a global health pandemic, riots in the US; UK and India having its own set of problems. And between all this, shines a bright light for humanity.
We fight over race, over caste, over religion. The things that don't matter a bit in the long term for human civilization. Why do we fight? To dominate over others for our pleasure for a short time. What after that, huh? We have shreds of evidence that great civilizations have fallen because they failed to advance. We may have that fate too.
It shouldn't matter that you are black, brown, or white... Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. We are one. We are one civilization. There's only one humankind. Divided we fail, united we win.
And this was one moment in this crisis. A bright ray of hope. Hope for humanity. This is worth working for. It shouldn't necessarily and only inspire you to take interest in Space, it should inspire you to do something great, it doesn't matter what it be.
Imagine if Elon too would've just laid on his couch watching football and drinking beer. There would have been no EVs, nor any Space Agency that seriously wants to make life multi-planetary (Sorry NASA and others, you're not on the list). No future sustainable innovations. Nothing!
This should inspire you to unite and forget the differences. This can inspire the youth to be engineers, astrophysicists. I say, Be whatever, but work for the greater good. Whatever you do shouldn't be destructive to anyone. It should advance us. And tell me seriously, even if you don't have an interest in Space, Doesn't the feeling of being on places other than Earth excites you?
“I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact”– Elon Musk
Excited for ISRO's plan of sending humans to space by 2022 and the next Gaganyaan mission. We need such things. Humanity needs it. We should be spending on these, instead of fighting for the things that don't matter in the long term.
“I would like to die thinking that humanity has a bright future” – Elon Musk
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