On May 27, for
the first time in nine years, American astronauts will launch from American
soil into space. Their destination? The International Space Station during
SpaceX Demonstration Mission-2, commonly known as DM-2.
On July 8, 2011, the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for STS-135,
marking the last mission for shuttle to begin a period where Russian
Soyuz spacecraft would ferry American astronauts for to the space station for
Workers measured and
marked in bright red the letters “MLG” at the spot where Atlantis' main landing gear came to rest after the
vehicle’s final return from space. Securing the space shuttle fleet's place in
history on the STS-135 mission, Atlantis
safely and successfully rounded out NASA’s Space Shuttle Program on the Shuttle
Landing Facility’s Runway 15 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Main
gear touchdown was at 5:57:00 a.m. EDT, followed by nose gear touchdown at
5:57:20 a.m., and wheelstop at 5:57:54 a.m. Image Credit: NASA/Kyle Herring
NASA is welcoming
partnerships with commercial companies like SpaceX and Boeing, who will
eventually take over the ferrying flights as NASA’s focuses on the next phase
of exploration: the Moon by 2024.
changed since then. Take a look and how things were … and how things are as
DM-2 anticipates launching an American crew at the end of May 2020.
Crew: Then and Now
Left: The STS-135 crew members pause for a final
photograph in front of space shuttle Atlantis. From left are: Commander
Chris Ferguson, Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission
Specialist Rex Walheim. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett. Right: NASA astronauts Bob
Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, walk through the
Crew Access Arm connecting the launch tower to the SpaceX Crew Dragon
spacecraft during a dress rehearsal at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
on Jan. 17, 2020. Image Credit: SpaceX
Spacecraft: Then and Now
Left: Riding a plume of fire, Atlantis heads into the cloud-laden sky over Launch Pad 39A Image Credit:
NASA/Tony Gray and Tom Farrar. Right: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s
Crew Dragon attached, rolls out of the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A
on Jan. 3, 2019. The rocket will undergo checkouts prior to the liftoff of
Demo-2, the inaugural flight of one of the spacecraft designed to take NASA
astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Image Credit: SpaceX
Mission Objectives: Then and Now
Left: On the 37th
shuttle mission to the space station, STS-135 delivered more than 9,400 pounds
of spare parts, equipment and supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics
module that will sustain station operations for the next year. STS-135 was the
33rd and final flight for Atlantis, which spent 307 days in space, orbited
Earth 4,848 times and traveled 125,935,769 miles. Here, Atlantis
is photographed from station as it flies over the Bahamas prior to docking with
the station. The Raffaello multipurpose logistics module can be seen inside the
cargo bay. Image Credit: NASA. Right: NASA has worked with SpaceX and
Boeing in developing Commercial Crew Program spacecraft to facilitate new human
spaceflight systems launching from U.S. soil with the goal of safe, reliable
and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the space
station. This second demonstration mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is
another end-to-end flight test of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, which will
include launch, docking, splashdown and recovery operations. It is the final
flight test of the system before SpaceX is certified to carry out operational
crew flights to and from the space station for NASA.
For fun …
Cell Phone Technology: Then and Now
Left: Apple iPhone 4S retailed starting at $199.
Right: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max retails starting at $1,099. Image Credits:
Grammy’s Best New Artist: Then and Now
Left: Esperanza Spalding. Image Credit:
thestar.com. Right: Billie Eilish. Image Credit: Grammy.com.
Amazon Bestselling Book: Then and Now
Left: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. Right: “Where
the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (so far).
Domestic Box Office: Then and Now
Left: “Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows, part 2;” Right: “Bad Boys for Life” (so far) (source:
Box Office Mojo).
Super Bowl: Then and Now
Left: Green Bay Packers win big. Right: Kansas
City takes home the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Across the Pond: Then and Now
estimated 2 billion people tuned in to watch the televised wedding of Britain's
Prince William to Kate Middleton. Right: Queen Elizabeth II turns
94 on April 21, 2020, with muted celebrations.
Average price of gas per gallon in Texas (regular
unleaded): Then and Now
Then: $3.67 (source: GasBuddy). Now: $1.52 (source:
Best Place to Work in the Federal Government: Then
In 2011, NASA was fifth overall. But, in 2019, for
the eighth consecutive year, we ranked #1! (source: Bestplacestowork.org).
Pictured is an illustration of Artemis
astronauts on the Moon. Image Credit: NASA
NASA and SpaceX are
targeting 3:32 p.m. CDT Wednesday, May 27, for the launch of the Demo-2 flight.
Be sure to tune in to watch history in action!