Columnists,Deshan Ilangakoon,Top Story l by Deshan Ilangakoon l 16 Jun 2020     - 101

The Ultimate Holiday Experience Beyond Our Terrestrial Home


At 12:52 AM Sri Lankan time, on Monday the 31st of May 2020, from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida, from Launch complex 39A, billionaire Elon Musk’s vision of a cheap (relatively that is) commercial space flight took to the skies as the Falcon 9 rocket took the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission to space for the first time. This event took on several firsts as it was the first ever manned commercial space flight, it was the first flight from US soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle program, a major step towards a manned mission back to the moon and then on towards Mars and most importantly it was a first big step toward a space program that will take to space visitors, and it won’t just be the ultra-rich people either. This SpaceX program is aiming to make space the latest in hot travel destinations for everyone.


The Rocket and Crew

I will admit that I am a big fan of aviation and space exploration. I have watched countless documentaries and videos on the space shuttle and the journey man towards space and I love all of these. The amazing power and the magnitude of it all was simply mind blowing to me. So, this time, watching the new SpaceX rockets take off from Cape Canaveral live on the Nasa YouTube channel, I was beside myself with excitement as those last few seconds were counted down.

Source: NASA

To be honest actually seeing what SpaceX has designed, it would be hard for me to show you the real videos and some Sci-fi movie and tell you that the real one wasn’t some other Sci-Fi movie too. Everything from the rockets, to the cabin and even the space suites looked absolutely nothing like ever before. They were completely redone and were straight from a movie and looked completely futuristic. If you don’t believe me, here is a image from the SpaceX site itself, now look at that and try to tell me that does not look like it’s a trailer for a new Star Trek or some other Sci-Fi futuristic movie.

Source: SpaceX website

That suite isn’t even a promotional item or anything like that, that is the real deal and the exact same suite they wore on their real mission. On top of this, their cabin was simplistic and super tech-ed out (unsurprising though given Elon Musk’s tech background. The cabin had very little going on inside it and their controls were mainly in the form of a few touch screen displays and a small panel of buttons. I mean, planes have more stuff in them, and they don’t even do a fraction of the work that the rocket is able to do.

Source: CNBC News

Of course, all this is possible thanks to the very simple fact that the rockets are actually fully automated. The astronauts did do some manual flying to check out the system and to see if it their manual controls were ok, but it was for testing purpose and the rocket really didn’t need any human interference. The crew could have just as easily been any one of us and it wouldn’t have mattered the slightest to the rocket as it went about its business of flying off to space and then coming back home.

The Mission of SpaceX’s Flight

The mission for this flight was plain and simply to do a full manned test of the SpaceX’s new rockets and have them certified by NASA for regular space flight. To achieve this, the crew would have to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) and then after their work on board the space station they will come back to earth. This would give the SpaceX systems a full end to end check and line them up to be able to take astronauts on a regular basis to the space station and then to the Moon and on towards Mars.

While watching this mission unfold live and with all the cameras streaming live vides from the actual rocket, watching all of this almost made me feel like I was on the rocket itself and it had some truly spectacular moments. The launch itself was quite amazing to watch and also watching the rockets main engine come back and land on Earth without any fuss was truly unreal. It was also a unique thing seeing the Dragon capsule approach the ISS with Japan and the rest of the world wising by in the back ground. But the moment that was simply the best, even for me as someone who watches a lot of space related documentaries, was the view of the ISS from the point of view of the capsule and it was truly mind blowing and mesmerizing. This is that image, taken from the YouTube stream of the mission, seeing the space station like this for the first time took my breath away.

Source: Screen caption from the YouTube live stream

All this effort of SpaceX for fully reusable space rockets was towards the end goals of getting to Mars and also so that one day, everyone would be able to see the world in all its full beauty. So sometime in the future, a travel destination story on Hi Online would be of a review of going off to space and back.


Deshan Ilangakoon

"A creative writer, photographer, traveler and cyber security professional, Deshan has worked with several local and international travel magazines and other sources, to publish stories and reviews of places, sights and experiences around Sri Lanka. He has a passion to share his experiences through stories and pictures of the wonders of Sri Lanka."

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