Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Even a pandemic can’t bring NASA down: On Wednesday, the space agency will team up with SpaceX for the first-ever public-private space launch.
Two veteran astronauts will hop aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and lift off to the International Space Station — and if all goes well, it might clear the launchpad for private space companies everywhere.
Virgin Orbit, which is trying to trailblaze a path for low-budget space travel, is in the game too — firing off a small rocket from one of its jumbo jets.
Watching from the wings is Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which has a rocket of its own it’s hoping to test.
You think Earth’s supply chains are a mess?
Try living in space.
You might be wondering why, in the middle of a pandemic, we are so eager to send humans into outer space. But as Engadget explained, space travel is so tightly scheduled that even one postponement could mess up the whole system.
Take the International Space Station: Space agencies time their departures and arrivals to maximize resources.
Astronauts bouncing around the ISS aren’t able to grow their own food in space quite yet, Matt Damon be damned, and they need refills from new travelers. A launch like this one can’t wait.
Also pressing: There’s no laundry machine floating outside the space station. If you’ve ever gone camping for a little too long without clean clothes, you can imagine how those astronauts are feeling right now.
The team guiding the Curiosity Rover? They’re WFH now
In some ways, astronauts are lucky: Quarantine has not been so simple for NASA’s team of engineers. Many rely on supercomputers and sophisticated 3D goggles to do their work, which they can’t just lug into the living room.
The Rover team has had to downgrade some of its equipment — like their fellow earthlings, the group uses red-and-blue 3D glasses for now — but it’s working out okay.
In late March, 2 days after they switched to home computers, the engineers successfully guided the rover into drilling for a rock sample on Mars.