Millions Of 2020 Graduates Will "Accompany" Astronauts On SpaceX's First Crewed Mission To The ISS

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An artist's illustration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon that will take astronauts to the ISS on May 27, 2020 (Credit: SpaceX

Due to COVID-19, the Class of 2020 is missing out on a traditional graduation. However, those who accepted SpaceX's invitation to upload selfies to the company's website will commemorate their milestone year with a journey most people only dream about.

They — or at least their photos — will "accompany" NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) on SpaceX's first-ever crewed flight. Even better, it will be America's first human spaceflight since NASA's Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011.

The historic Demo-2 mission will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:33 p.m. PST (4:33 p.m EST) on May 27, 2020. Its primary purpose is to test the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket's suitability for human flight. If all goes as expected, SpaceX could begin regularly flying astronauts to and from the ISS as early as summer 2020. This would reduce NASA's dependency on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which has been the astronauts' only means of getting to and from the ISS for nearly a decade. SpaceX's relatively low price of $56 million per seat will also save the US agency, which currently spends $86 million per seat, a substantial amount of money.

The Demo-2 mission will carry photos of millions of 2020 graduates to the ISS (Credit: SpaceX)

"Next week will mark the beginning of a new era in human spaceflight with the launch of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station," NASA officials wrote in a statement released on May 19, 2020. "This test flight will be a historic and momentous occasion that will see the return of human spaceflight to our country, and the incredible dedication by the men and women of NASA is what has made this mission possible."

While Behnken and Hurley will reach the ISS about 19 hours after they leave Earth, their return date is yet to be decided. It will be determined by two factors: the Crew Dragon's condition in orbit and the progress of SpaceX's Crew-1 capsule, the first operational flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will transport the four crew members of the Expedition 63/64 to the ISS, sometime this year.

The SpaceX mission will be America's first human spaceflight since NASA retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011 (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials estimate the astronauts will spend anywhere from a month to a maximum of 119 days on the space station. They will, however, return to Earth by September 23, 2020, because the Crew Dragon capsule's solar arrays are not designed to withstand degradation in space for more than 120 days.

"Any solar array in low Earth orbit tends to degrade a little bit over time," Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said on May 1, 2020. "It turns out the atmosphere has a little bit of oxygen in it — it's called atomic oxygen — and so there's a little bit of degradation in the ability for the cells itself to generate power. And the particular cells on the trunk for a Dragon, based on analysis capability, kind of a worst-case prediction, we think we can get about 120 days capability out of those."

Fortunately, the beaming images of the millions of 2020 graduates have no return deadline. That means they will be able to continue their space "mission" eternally!

Resources: Cnet.com, Space.com, www.entrepreneur.com

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172 Comments
  • lovebirds23
    lovebirds23Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 9:16 am
    I love watching this short video
    • 2125006
      2125006Monday, October 12, 2020 at 1:38 pm
      I was watching the launch and i was THERE!
      • tewks
        tewksMonday, August 31, 2020 at 7:08 am
        This is realy cool my sis graduated and she was really sad about prom
        • 29zabraham
          29zabrahamSaturday, July 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm
          Cool rocket 🚀
          • hemancharles
            hemancharlesMonday, July 13, 2020 at 12:21 pm
            oh stay safe during cornavirus
            • hemancharles
              hemancharlesMonday, July 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm
              ya me too and so does my other friends
              • 1234567890minut
                1234567890minutFriday, June 19, 2020 at 3:20 pm
                That was so incoruining
                • kourtneybaguio
                  kourtneybaguioThursday, June 18, 2020 at 11:27 pm
                  Stay safe #covid quarantine 😁
                  • bunnie_kitty
                    bunnie_kittySunday, October 25, 2020 at 10:50 am
                    Stay safe kourtneybaguio!
                  • naruto999
                    naruto999Monday, June 8, 2020 at 3:36 pm
                    wow very cool i want to be a astronaut
                    • howls
                      howlsThursday, June 11, 2020 at 10:47 am
                      You should be any thing you want to be🚀
                      • ilee
                        ileeTuesday, June 9, 2020 at 11:51 am
                        In my opinion, I think it would be really scary to be an astronaut. There's a chance you could die up in space!!!
                        • skategirl13
                          skategirl13Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at 6:28 pm
                          That is encouraging lol 😋
                      • ben_dover
                        ben_doverMonday, June 8, 2020 at 12:18 am
                        This article is soooooooo goood its soooooo interesting like really like a lot a lot