SpaceX, which is backed by billionaire Elon Musk, has just sent its Crew Dragon, which was unmanned, on a test-flight to the ISS. After successfully docking with the orbiting laboratory, the spaceship is now on its way back to Earth, and is due to arrive today. If the landing is a smooth as it is expected to be, one commentator believes this could spell the end for Russian space travel.
Since 2011, international space agencies, including NASA, have been relying on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, created by the national space agency Roscosmos, to taxi astronauts to and from the ISS.
However, Soyuz will become redundant if the much cheaper and smoother Crew Dragon is opted for in the future.
Russian space expert Vadim Lukashevich told TV station Moscow 24: “With this launch, even if it was ordered by NASA, this private company SpaceX has made Roscosmos null and void.
“They have shown Roscosmos who’s who.
“Look, if we compare the ships on a technological level, our Soyuz is in principle unable to compete with the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.
“This is because our Soyuz was ideologically built in the 1960s by Sergei Pavlovich Korolev.
“Even having undergone a lot of modification, it is still flying to this day. It is reliable and its bugs have all been worked out. But it has become an unreliable ship in principle.
“Elon Musk has built the ship of the future. It’s a seven-place spacecraft. It is re-usable. It is new technology.
“Accordingly, it beats Soyuz according to every parameter, by every technological indicator.”
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will travel at 17,500 mph – 25 times the speed of sound.
If all goes according to plan, the Crew Dragon will splash-down in the Atlantic Ocean using four parachutes.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon will aim to land 200 miles off the US East coast, at around 12.30pm GMT (7.30am ET).
A manned mission is scheduled for July.