In a feat that was years in the making, the SpaceX team sent astronauts into space. Initially, the launch looked to be a landmark success. But the return journey started to tell a different story. NASA soon realized the ship had accidentally carried a fatal substance back down to Earth. And it immediately put everyone in danger.
Looking To Mars
It was a snag that may have placed SpaceX’s long-term mission in jeopardy. What does the company have planned? Well, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has said, “This is really just the beginning. We are starting the journey of bringing people regularly to and from low Earth orbit, then onto the moon, and then ultimately onto Mars.”
But first the mission was to launch a craft called Crew Demo-2 carrying two astronauts to the International Space Station. And given SpaceX’s status as a commercial company, the world was keeping an extra close eye on how successful the whole thing would be. Yes, the team had a lot to prove.
Pressure To Succeed
If all went well, SpaceX would get NASA Commercial Crew Program certification. That would mean it could complete further trips to the International Space Station in the future. But Crew Demo-2 had pulled off its first flight without any people on board. This time, astronauts were making the leap, so the stakes of ensuring their safety was an added layer of pressure.
Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert ‘Bob’ Behnken were chosen for the mission. And whether they were worried about the trip or not, they had to see Crew Demo-2 through each groundbreaking step of the process. There was the launch, landing successfully on the Space Station, and, most crucially, returning safely back to Earth. They may not have anticipated the deadly substance they’d bring back with them, though.