There are two types of specially built spacecraft currently in development, the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing Starliner. But even if they both started around the same time, SpaceX’s devices managed to reach their competition.
The Crew Dragon actually flew to the International Space Station without a crew and with people on board, and it succeeded in both missions. The next flight is scheduled for later this month, during which four people will make a trip into space heading to the International Space Station.
On the other hand, the Starliner was more cruel. In December 2019, the capsule set off on its maiden flight, on an unmanned mission to the International Space Station. Due to a software bug that caused the spaceship to think it was in orbital combustion, and when that did not happen, docking failed and the mission was abandoned. The Starliner was able to install an airbag upon landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico – something that another astronaut-capable capsule has never done before.
Sometime in 2021 (the date is now set for June) the Starliner will take off with people on board. The initial crew was made up of Mike Fink, Nicole Mann, and Chris Ferguson, but since the latter decided, for personal reasons, to skip the mission, Barry “Butch Wilmer” will replace him.
The fact that private companies decided to build a spacecraft for NASA astronauts freed the agency’s hand to focus on the Artemis program. The Space Launch System rocket, Orion capsule, Gateway space station, and even a base on Earth on the Moon should be operational, at intervals, by the end of this decade.
Then comes the real test, humanity’s first expedition to Mars, which, with all intents and purposes, depends heavily on the success of the Artemis program.
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