RUssland once tried with dogs if they survive flights in space. This is over 60 years ago, and the Laika dog was the first living thing in space not to survive this flight. Meanwhile, there are other methods to investigate whether a human being in a capsule would survive a space flight.
The entrepreneur Elon Musk has now put a full-size puppet with sensors in a space suit and sent it to the International Space Station (ISS). The puppet is sitting in his new "Crew Dragon" capsule, with which Musk is again writing the history of space.
With "Crew Dragon", for the first time, a capsule of astronauts built by a private company has automatically hooked up to the "ISS". The technically very demanding maneuver worked on the first attempt. If in a few days also the return of the capsule on the earth and the landing in the Atlantic, the way for the manned private space flight would be free. So far, the only satellite or private transport in space.
Musk is now ahead of Boeing
Musk, who is also the head of the electronic car manufacturer Tesla, frees the United States from the shame of relying on Russia for astronaut flights in space. Since the end of space flights eight years ago, Moscow has finally been able to decide who flies to the "ISS". Russia has also cashed in flights – the last 80 million dollars for astronaut.
After the end of the Spaceshuttle 2011 missions, NASA has asked private companies to put an end to this weakness of the American space flight. With billions of dollars in funding and contracts from the US Space Agency, the space company of Elon Musk SpaceX and Boeing have launched a competition to build a new capsule for astronauts in the United States. The moss is now on top. Boeing wants to follow the example in April / May and test its new "Starliner" capsule in space.
If there is no problem with the five-day SpaceX test mission, a crewed "Crew Dragon" capsule for the "ISS" could actually start this summer. Two astronauts have already decided: Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. They saw the rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Hurley has a lot of experience. He was with other astronauts on board the last space shuttle that returned to Earth in 2011.
In contrast to the narrow Soyuz capsules of the Russians or the former Apollo capsule for three astronauts, the "Crew Dragon" capsule, almost five meters high, offers space and modern technology. The capsule is unique and chic in many ways. For example, it has an integrated missile rescue system.
The concept derives from previous considerations of having the capsule landed on Earth on its return from space – just like the Russians. In the end, the decision to land on the water fell as in previous Apollo missions.
Theoretically, up to seven people could fly in the capsule. But in the first test mission only one seat is occupied – the mannequin in space suit. Also, he flew a small, unattached plush figure to try it in the movie when weightlessness stabilizes.
The mannequin is called Ripley
Elon Musk loves test dummies in flight on test missions. When almost a year ago its heavy rocket "Falcon Heavy" took off for the first time, it sent a red Tesla rover as a payload on an infinite journey into space, beyond the planet Mars. On the seat of the red sports car, he mounted the Starman mannequin.
So now again a mannequin in space suit, the moss this time gave the name Ripley. It is an obvious allusion to the famous "Alien" films of 1979 with astronaut Ellen Ripley.
In fact, Musk commented shortly after launching the Florida Falcon rocket, saying it would be nice to see how previous science fiction images were slowly becoming a reality. For the aliens, such strange creatures, he said nothing.
He gave a small insight into his emotional world. "Frankly, I am a little emotionally exhausted," he said at four in the morning at the press conference. The preparations were very stressful.
Among the most dangerous phases of the mission is the re-entry of the capsule into the Earth's atmosphere with the subsequent release of parachutes and the landing of water outside Florida. Then Musk pointed to the great symbolism of the mission. SpaceX uses the same 39A launching platform at Cape Canaveral in Florida, which also launches the Apollo Moon Missions and Spaceshuttle flights.
Musk would like to popular Mars
With the next crewed flights of the "Crew Dragon" capsule, Musk also reaches an important stage in the development of the company with SpaceX, founded only 17 years ago. The entrepreneur born in South Africa approaches his lifelong dream of colonizing Mars because he can gain experience through the capsule.
Musk does not exclude that "Crew Dragon" may one day be used commercially. First of all, however, NASA orders should be processed.
The boss of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, exulted in any case on the success of the launch of the "Crew Dragon" mission. It was a "great night for the United States of America". Then at the press conference he referred to the plans of US President Donald Trump to colonize the Moon.
In addition, there are preparations to make the moon orbit in a space station, so similar to the "ISS" currently in orbit around the Earth. All these missions require capsules to transport the astronauts. Therefore, it was right to involve private companies in American space flight. They created a new state of mind, said Bridenstine.
Congratulations from Russia
The head of NASA has left open if in the future the US space agency rather on the capsule "Dragon" of Elon Musk or the concept of Starliner of the sets of Boeing when he will send the astronauts in space. "We are not in a space race," he said, referring to the history of space with the first moon landing of 50 years ago: "The race is over," he said. The United States would have won. "We are now in a position where we can take our time and make sure we do it well."
The view from the new "Crew Dragon" astronaut capsule must be fascinating. After the capsule was anchored to the ISS and several precautions were taken for hours, the electrifying moment arrived: for the first time, the access door was opened and the three members of the ISS crew fluctuated in one capsule from which to return to Earth can only dream. Not as cramped as in a Russian but comfortable Soyuz.
"I am pleased to announce that the first glance through the window looks good," triggered Anne McClain, a space station flight engineer. The Ripley astronaut's doll looks "as if they enjoyed their journey". The Russians sent a congratulatory message for the coupling of an astronaut capsule to the "ISS". So far, only they have been able to do it.