In space, humanity wants to secure its future. Since Earth is not enough, people will travel regularly through space in the coming decades, including astronauts exploring space stations and tourists in orbit around the moon. A base near the moon should also be built. And perhaps in this century a first delegation will fly to Mars.
In a regular airline that brings people safely, reliably and cost-effectively into space, two private companies work on behalf of the US space agency NASA: on the one hand the traditional company Boeingthat first brought people to the moon 50 years ago. On the other hand, SpaceX, Elon Musk's billionaire private rocket startup, which has since become discredited for unplanned outbursts, has long been recognized as a service provider in the space industry and has become a name with its reusable missiles. In the interest of NASA, both pursue the same goal: to bring the United States back into supremacy in manned space flight.
The opponents have competed with different preconditions and strategies. Boeing vs. SpaceX means experience against visions. Luck against the financing rounds. Security against risk. But in the race for the future of manned space travel it is currently – at least in time – not Boeing, but SpaceX ahead.
"Go for the launch"
Because the company of Elon Musks is ready for their first unmanned test flight with the new capsule called Crew Dragon. For years, the industry has longed for this moment. After frequent delays, NASA finally approved the first private test flight for this Saturday, March 2, in mid-February. One day before the start of the mission with the official name Demo-1 it says: "Go for the launch",
At 8.49 German clock, a Falcon 9 rocket from the historian
39A significant launch complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida, launches the Crew Dragon capsule with its wired manikin in space suits and materials for the International Space Station (see info box).
Last Sunday will be automatically docked at the ISS and at 8.
Separate again March, take the flight back to Earth and just over
land in the Atlantic Ocean six hours later. This is the plan.
For the first time since the deactivation of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the United States could show that it will soon be able to bring people into space. The dependence on Russia's Soyuz rockets should end. In April, Boeing wants to follow the example: their Crew Space Transportation 100 Starliner, short CST-100, should therefore – after the forecast in the meantime for the 2018 year the start has been postponed – before withdraw.
But first you have to Elon Musk and his team shows if their crew owns Dragon, what does he promise: are the electrical systems under control? Does the communication technology work? What about pressure, vibration and acoustics in the capsule? All this and more should show the unmanned test. Only when everything goes as planned and the dead survive in space travel and return to earth unharmed, people will be allowed to enter the capsule. This could also happen in July of this year on a successful test flight.
In any case, NASA is doing well in the competition of private space taxi operators. It has two strong and ambitious contractors, SpaceX and Boeing, who are ready to divide space transport in the near future. Under the flag of the United States. The second era of American shuttles should start.