JUN 01, 2020 3:12 PM PDT

Why SpaceX's Demo-2 Launch This Past Weekend Was So Significant

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

If you somehow managed to miss the exciting news this past weekend, NASA and SpaceX set an important precedent in American spaceflight history after astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley blasted off on the much-anticipated Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

This launch was particularly significant because it was the first time American astronauts launched from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle era nearly a decade ago, and it was also the first time that a commercial space vehicle ferried NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. Before this weekend, NASA depended heavily on Russia and its Soyuz platform to make this happen, but this successful launch demonstration could make SpaceX into one of NASA’s preferred space launch contractors going forward.

But why is this such a big deal in the first place? After all, can’t we just continue to work with Russia to send astronauts to space? Yes, and no; it comes down to price. When NASA initially had the capability to send astronauts into space themselves, the price tag was around $20-30 million per seat. That amount has steadily increased to more than $80 million per seat today, whereas SpaceX will only charge $55 million per seat initially with an expected decay to around $10-20 million per seat in the future.

Digressing aside, SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch transpired just after 3 P.M. Eastern Time on Saturday as a result of unfavorable weather condition delays the Wednesday prior, and it was followed by a successful International Space Station docking the following Sunday morning. It wasn’t long after the Behnken and Hurley joined the existing crew members in space.

It’s worth noting that this wasn’t SpaceX’s first time flying to the International Space Station – it was merely the first time that one of the commercial space company’s capsules had living human beings inside. SpaceX has flown literally dozens of cargo missions to the International Space Station previously, and so some might say that the company has had quite a bit of practice with docking its Dragon spacecraft to the station.

It will indeed be interesting to see how spaceflight transforms going forward as a result of this success, as we still have yet to see Boeing’s crewed demonstration mission. As it would seem, the private sector offers a lot of benefits over first-party development, as it appears to be capable of making bigger things happen for less money.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 28, 2020
Space & Astronomy
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
DEC 28, 2020
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
China has recovered the first new moon rock samples in decades, and from a previously unexplored part of the moon. Now w ...
DEC 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why is the Sun's Outer Atmosphere Hotter than its Surface?
DEC 29, 2020
Why is the Sun's Outer Atmosphere Hotter than its Surface?
The fact that the Sun's distant atmosphere is significantly hotter than its surface has been a topic of confusion in ...
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Eruption of an "Extra-Galactic Old Faithful"
JAN 13, 2021
The Eruption of an "Extra-Galactic Old Faithful"
We know that geysers like Old Faithful can erupt on a predictable schedule, and now researchers have learned more about ...
APR 26, 2021
Space & Astronomy
All-Sky Map of the Milky Way May Tell Us More About Dark Matter
APR 26, 2021
All-Sky Map of the Milky Way May Tell Us More About Dark Matter
Astronomers have created a new map that includes the outermost regions of our Milky Way galaxy. Image by: NASA/JPL/Calte ...
MAY 29, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Get a Glimpse of the 'Violent' Center of Our Galaxy
MAY 29, 2021
Astronomers Get a Glimpse of the 'Violent' Center of Our Galaxy
There's a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy, but it's difficult for astronomers to see exactly what's happe ...
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Physicists Find Definitive Proof of What Causes the Northern Lights
JUN 08, 2021
Physicists Find Definitive Proof of What Causes the Northern Lights
The auroras that are the northern lights have captured the imagination of people for thousands of years. While theories ...
Loading Comments...