The business arrangement between the private sector and NASA is becoming fascinating.
The International Space Station has welcomed four space travelers who left Earth from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. It’s a historic crew that docked with the ISS aboard a SpaceX capsule called Dragon.
The team consists of Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Russia’s Roscosmos. The multinational crew is celebrated for at least a couple of reasons.
First, the inclusion of a Russian gives humanity some hope that geopolitical tensions created by Russia’s war on Ukraine will not stop humankind’s cooperation in its quest for the advancement of science and space exploration. Second, Nicole Mann is the first Native American woman to travel in space.
The crew was welcomed by Samantha Cristoforetti from the European Space Agency. Below is the uplifting Twitter post with video of the zero-gravity meeting.
That wonderful event has some Internet users talking about what a bad hair day looks like in space. But after a journey like that, really, who cares? On the subject of that journey, a look at the dramatic launch seems in order.
The team is expected to spend around five months in space. The job will involve scientific experiments and spacewalks.
A NASA statement about the purpose of the mission states, “Experiments will include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the Moon, and better understanding heart disease.”
The SpaceX and NASA Business Deal
SpaceX is owned by Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report CEO Elon Musk. The company has flown six crewed missions working with the space agency. A $2.6 billion arrangement between the two involves giving Earth-to-ISS transportation responsibilities to the private sector. NASA wants to spend its other resources on working further out into the solar system.
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about,” says Musk in a mission statement. “It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
Musk has his own ambitions for manned flights to Mars on the huge Starship rocket his company is building.
It’s expected that NASA’s deal with SpaceX could grow to $4.9 billion with more missions planned.
Boeing has a deal going with NASA as well. Its spacecraft, the Starliner, is a work in progress, but the company thinks it can be ready for a crewed mission in 2023.