SpaceX plans to send Americans to space tomorrow: Here’s what you need to know

John Watson, Sports Editor

Featured Image: Official SpaceX Photos on Flickr

A landmark day in modern American history is upon us as SpaceX joins (space) forces with NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station.

Ahead of tomorrow’s manned launch from Cape Canaveral, FL at 4:33 p.m. ET, you may be wondering why America would send someone to space.

Well, below are some questions you might be asking yourself about tomorrow’s (hopeful) launch.

As SpaceX heads to the ISS, breakthrough technology will be put to the test onboard the rocket.

Why is this important? 

This mission is important because it is the first launch of a manned American rocket on American soil since the last space shuttle launched in 2011. While there are currently Americans in space, they got there by outsourcing to foreign space programs.

However, SpaceX is a private, American company, and while NASA has been working hard on sending Americans into space for 62 years, high costs have always been a major factor. SpaceX has made breakthroughs to cut costs tremendously, and for once space travel is affordable and economically sound.

 

Why are we sending Americans into space again?

For the past 9 years, the U.S. has been relying on Russia and China to send American lives to the ISS. As we grow as a country and find breakthroughs in science, it is invaluable that we are self-reliant in the space odyssey once again.

For NASA, this is huge! It once cost American taxpayers around $1.5 billion a ride in a space shuttle to the ISS. Now with SpaceX technology and reusable rockets, the cost  has been drastically cut to around $55 million per seat!

 

Who is SpaceX?

Two years before the Space Shuttle program ended, SpaceX struck a huge deal with NASA that saved the company. After failing on the first three of four attempts to send a Falcon I rocket to space, SpaceX was financially hanging on by a shoestring. It wasn’t until NASA awarded them a $1.6 billion contract for 12 successful cargo flights to the ISS.

As all eyes are on SpaceX, the team in Cape Canaveral are all-hands-on-deck.

Since then, SpaceX has successfully made dozens of trips to and from the ISS on unmanned aircrafts, and their market valuations routinely surpass $100 billion. However, this would be their first manned flight, and all eyes are on SpaceX as their Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon capsule is almost ready for liftoff.

 

What exactly is going down tomorrow?

While exact specific details are so intricate and precise, youtuber “Everyday Astronaut” goes in depth in this video explaining the series of events in the 19-hour journey to the ISS.

 

Last things to know

The launch will be called off if weather is not cooperative and if pre-flight checks don’t go as expected.

As of 4:00 p.m. the day before the launch, the weather is currently 60% favorable according to SpaceX on twitter

Unlike other SpaceX launches, American lives are at stake and all necessary precautions will be taken. Fortunately in the event of something going wrong after liftoff, a new feature will help save lives given an unfortunate event.

In January, SpaceX successfully tested their Crew Dragon abort system. In the case of a rocket falling apart or a system failure, the capsule holding the astronauts would eject and deploy four parachutes which would safely land it in the Atlantic Ocean. While this would mean failure of bringing Americans to the ISS, precious lives are safe and secure with this new technology.

If NASA gets the green light and sends American Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to Space tomorrow, it could be a monumental achievement for the U.S. and space exploration moving forward.

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