Four astronauts were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from Florida as part of a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program. The mission is called Crew-2.
- NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is a partnership between NASA and private industry to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
- Unlike previous human spaceflight programs, NASA is a customer buying flights from commercial providers. The agency does not own or operate the spacecraft.
- The program is helping to lower the cost of spaceflight and potentially create a new commercial market for humans in space.
- By encouraging private companies to provide crew transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA can focus on building spacecraft and rockets meant for deep space exploration missions.
- Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA in September 2014 to develop transportation systems meant to transfer crew from the US to the ISS.
NASA’s Partnership with SpaceX:
- In May 2020, NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight lifted off for the ISS carrying two astronauts.
- The aim of this test flight was to see if SpaceX capsules could be used on a regular basis to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.
- Demo-2 was followed by the Crew-1 mission in November, which was the first of six crewed missions between NASA and SpaceX marking the beginning of a new era for space travel.
- Crew-1 was the first operational flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS.
- Crew-1 team members joined members of Expedition 64 and conducted microgravity studies at the ISS.
About the Crew-2 Mission:
- It is the second crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with international partners.
- Out of the four astronauts, two are from NASA and two are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
- Crew-2 astronauts will join the members of Expedition 65 (65th long duration expedition to the International Space Station).
- They will stay aboard the ISS for six months during which time they will conduct science experiments in low-Earth orbit.
- Their central focus during this time will be to continue a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies.
- Tissue Chips are small models of human organs that contain multiple cell types that behave similarly to the human body.
- According to NASA, these chips can potentially speed up the process of identifying safe and effective drugs and vaccines.
- Scientists can use these tissue chips in space to study diseases that affect specific human organs, which would take months or years to develop on Earth.
International Space Station
- ISS is a habitable artificial satellite – the single largest man-made structure in low earth orbit. Its first component was launched into orbit in 1998.
- It circles the Earth in roughly 92 minutes and completes 15.5 orbits per day.
- The ISS programme is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada) but its ownership and use has been established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
- It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.
- Continuous presence at ISS has resulted in the longest continuous human presence in the low earth orbit.
- It is expected to operate until 2030.
SOURCE: THE HINDU ,THE ECONOMIC TIMES ,MINT