SpaceX conducted a test flight of its Crew Dragon capsule on January 19, 2020. - SPACEX

On July 21, 2011, the Atlantis shuttle landed for the last time on the tarmac at Cape Canaveral. Since the end of the program, the Americans have depended on the Russian Soyuz rockets to go to the International Space Station. It will change on May 27: SpaceX will transport two American astronauts to the ISS with its new Crew Dragon capsule, announced the chief of Nasa Friday - a first for a private company.

BREAKING: On May 27, @NASA will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil! With our @SpaceX partners, @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken will launch to the @Space_Station on the #CrewDragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Let's #LaunchAmerica 🇺🇸

- Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) April 17, 2020

"On May 27, NASA will once again launch American astronauts aboard an American rocket from American territory! "Tweeted Jim Bridenstine, administrator of the space agency. NASA was targeting the month of May for this mission, and maintained the schedule despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have been training for years on this demonstration mission, the first with humans on board, and which the United States has eagerly awaited to emancipate itself from dependence on Russia.

Nasa reports and delay

They will be installed in the Crew Dragon capsule, an adapted version of the Dragon cargo capsule which has been supplying the ISS with equipment and food since 2012, and which will be attached to the top of SpaceX's rocket rocket, the Falcon 9. The takeoff is planned May 27 at 4:32 p.m. (10:32 p.m. Paris time) from the legendary launch pad 39A at the Kennedy space center in Florida. The same step from which the Apollo astronauts left for the Moon. They will dock with the ISS after 24 hours. But the duration of their mission has not yet been defined. There is currently an American and two Russians in the station.

The mission will be a historic event for NASA, which has struggled to turn the page on space shuttles. They transported American astronauts for thirty years, but two exploded, and they were put away in July 2011. In the process, Nasa canceled its Constellation program and then replaced it with the Space Launch System (SLS) which delayed, with a first flight postponed several times. It will no doubt take place in 2021, which could delay the return of astronauts to the Moon with the Artemis program still set for 2024.

Test flight successful for SpaceX

For now, NASA has chosen SpaceX and the giant Boeing for a multi-billion dollar contract. SpaceX developed Crew Dragon, and Boeing the Starliner capsule. But Boeing partially failed in an unladen mission in December that exposed dangerous software and communications problems, and Starliner will have to redo an unmanned flight.

The company of Elon Musk, who also founded the electric car manufacturer Tesla, could therefore accomplish the feat of becoming the first private company to transport astronauts into space.

Crew Dragon successfully completed a dress rehearsal of this mission with a mannequin on board in March 2019. The capsule had docked at the ISS, more than 400 kilometers from Earth, and had spent six days there before returning to land in the Atlantic, slowed down by parachutes, like the Apollo capsules.


VIDEO. Space X Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station


SpaceX wins contract with NASA ahead of Boeing

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