CTV News | Top Stories - Breaking News - Top News Headlines
SpaceX launch could help pave the way for space tourism, Canadian astronaut says
TORONTO -- We have liftoff.
The second attempt of the SpaceX launch proved successful after clear skies allowed the Crew Dragon spacecraft to blast off toward the International Space Station (ISS).
Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who has been a part of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) since 2009, says the launch shows the ever-growing evolution of space travel.
“This is a really great example of how space has been changing right before our eyes,” Hansen told CTV News Channel.
“This rocket is reusable. After the first stage finishes its job of getting most of the weight of the orbit typically, they would just break off and fall into the ocean, however, this one will fly back and land, and then it’ll be reused in the future just like an airliner,” he said.
Hansen said the innovation to make the space capsule reusable stemmed from finding ways to reduce the cost of travelling to space.
“This is our American neighbours bringing a really incredible technology to the table that will benefit all in the international partnership,” Hansen said.
The veteran astronauts on the journey are Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who are expected to dock at the ISS Sunday morning and live there for up to three months.
As for what this launch means for the commercial aspect of space travel, Hansen said this is just the beginning of the inevitable.
“That’s been the goal for a while and I feel like space is on the cusp of commercial venture where you can have space tourism where non-government agencies are sending people into space,” he said.
Similar to that of the evolution of the aviation industry, Hansen said the SpaceX program is all part of the idea of changing government space agencies into commercial organizations.
“These are all parts of that endeavour with the idea of shaking it out of the responsibility of the government over to commercial, just like you see with aviation which used to be largely government and so that’s a natural progression,” he said.
Along with the thousands of spectators watching the historic launch, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said he watched in awe and was relieved to see its success. He said there was a lot of risk involved with this particular launch.
“This is the first time that that combination of ship and rocket has taken people into space. The odds are not good on first-time rocket launches, so I’m really delighted to see the quality of engineering and the skill of all the people involved,” he told CTV News Channel.
“Especially with the trouble that’s going on today, it’s like a beacon of real hope of what America can actually do when they put their mind to it. I though it was a great day,” he said.
Now what about Canada? Prior to the SpaceX launch Hadfield took questions on Twitter and discussed the future of the Canadian Space Agency.
One user asked Hadfield if there is a market for a launch pad in Canada. He replied that though it is something that is currently being developed, it remains a difficult process to establish.
While a launch pad in Canada might be seen in the more distant future, Jeremy Hansen said Canada still has a lot on its plate when it comes to the future of space travel. Hansen said the CSA has various projects planned with international partners, one of which involves a mission to the moon and Mars.
“The biggest thing for Canadians to know, especially young Canadians (is) Canada has partnered with our international partners to go back to the moon. We’re part of building the gateway which is a jumping off platform around the moon in lunar orbit and allows us to go to the surface of the moon and do science in that area but also go out to Mars,” Hansen said.
There is also a development in space robotics that Hansen says goes beyond the Canadarm.
“Canada’s a major contributor and we’re creating a lot of opportunity for young Canadians both as explorers and as engineers and scientists who want to help us bring benefits back to the planet,” he said.