SpaceX Crew Dragon: A new era in space exploration

  • IASbaba
  • June 2, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

SpaceX Crew Dragon: A new era in space exploration

Context: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft has delivered Nasa astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), marking the first human spaceflight with private collaboration. 

A brief Background

  • NASA’s Space Shuttle mission was decommissioned in 2011
  • Since then NASA has relied on the Russian space agency Roscosmos for ferrying astronauts to ISS. 
  • NASA was no longer interested in performing routine jobs like ferrying people to orbit as it wanted to reserve budgets for increasing R& and space exploration.
  • Also, NASA wanted Private players (like SpaceX) to take up this role but it took nearly 9 years to do this

Impact of Crew Dragon’ success

  • Reduced Russian Dominance: Over the last nine years, there have been some 40 successful launches of Russian Soyuz spacecraft with US astronauts on board. But, now the Moscow’s monopoly on crew transport has ended.
  • Emboldened US: President Donald Trump has pledged that US astronauts will return to the moon in 2024 to stay, and make a launch base for Mars.
  • Speeds up Mars Mission: The US has also stated that it would put the first woman on the moon, and the first astronauts on Mars.
  • Fire up US- Russia Space Travel competition: Trump’s competitive America-first rhetoric is of Cold War vintage, when winning the space race was a matter of superpower prestige
  • Enhances Private Partnership: An era of public-private partnerships in space is beginning, where the sector will also be driven by profits rather than mere National prestige.
  • Opens up Space Market: Rapid mass commercial aviation at the edge of space would probably be the most lucrative segment in the future
  • National Cooperation: The biggest achievement of the ISS program could be lost: the “invaluable experience of cooperation.” A return to nations going it alone in outer space would be a step backward for international collaboration
  • Reduced Cost: The entry of private sector has begun to drive down the cost-per-launch through innovations such as reusable rockets. For a trip to the ISS and back Roscosmos had increased its fees from $21 million to nearly $90 million in 2020


The Crew Dragon has broken a psychological barrier, but aversion to risk would probably keep private capital (especially in post-COVD world) to a secondary or supporting role in space.

Connecting the dots:

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