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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171 Comments
  • 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
    • 11008800
      11008800Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 10:49 am
      This article was awsome!!
      • willy_wow
        willy_wowThursday, June 4, 2020 at 10:47 am
        If you like the Spacex article a lot then follow me!
        • daniella_reader
          daniella_readerThursday, June 4, 2020 at 10:47 am
          This is SO cool! So many days on the ISS and the video was cool too! I saw the launch to! Think about those 12th graders! If you agree to any of this or have any questions leave a like and reply! Thx!!
          • galaxyninja
            galaxyninjaTuesday, July 7, 2020 at 9:04 am
            Yeah i wonder if my cousin is up there he just gradguated
          • aroroblox
            arorobloxWednesday, June 3, 2020 at 6:56 pm
            I remember I like space
            • willy_wow
              willy_wowWednesday, June 3, 2020 at 2:43 pm
              I like space a looot!
              • willy_wow
                willy_wowWednesday, June 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm
                This is sooo cool!
                • oofman67
                  oofman67Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 9:43 am
                  the launch was so cool! like this comment if this is your favorite launch you have ever seen!
                  • mhkgc235
                    mhkgc235Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 2:44 am
                    I watched the launch on YouTube live of it on TV. 🚀
                    • dogogemi
                      dogogemiMonday, June 1, 2020 at 9:19 am
                      Who watched the Launch? It was soo cool! Stay Safe! Peace!