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Lessons from the Launchpad

Nobody ever said space travel would be easy!

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A SpaceX rocket called the Falcon Heavy launches.

When building rockets, one thing is for sure—expect the unexpected! SpaceX, a company in California, is working on a new type of spacecraft that can carry people into space. In March, the craft, called Crew Dragon, successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS). But the next month, Crew Dragon exploded on the launchpad during a test. Luckily, no one was hurt.

For SpaceX, both experiences offer valuable information that will help it make advances in spaceflight. Failure is part of the engineering design process, says Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX. “People learn far more from their failures than they do from successes,” she says.

When building rockets, expect the unexpected! SpaceX builds rockets. It is a company in California. SpaceX is working on a new type of spacecraft. It’s one that can carry people into space. In March, the craft made it to space. It’s called Crew Dragon. It docked at the International Space Station (ISS). But the next month, Crew Dragon exploded on the launchpad. It happened during a test. Luckily, no one was hurt.

For SpaceX, both experiences were valuable. They gave SpaceX information. Scientists can use it to make advances in spaceflight. Failure is part of the engineering design process, says Gwynne Shotwell. She is the president of SpaceX. “People learn far more from their failures than they do from successes,” she says. 

Shifting Space Race

For decades, NASA and other government agencies handled most spaceflight. Now SpaceX and other private companies send rockets into space. The rockets launch satellites and take supplies to the ISS.

SpaceX hopes to advance space exploration with new technologies. The company’s ultimate goal is to take people to Mars. Before that can happen, it needs to develop safe, reusable vehicles. This takes a lot of trial and error.

For decades, NASA and other government agencies handled most spaceflight. Now SpaceX and other private companies send rockets into space. The rockets launch satellites. They also take supplies to the ISS.

SpaceX hopes to advance space exploration with new technologies. The company wants to take people to Mars. Before that can happen, it needs to develop safe, reusable vehicles. This takes a lot of trial and error. 

NASA

Astronaut Anne McClain sends out a video message after Crew Dragon arrived at the ISS.

Test After Test

Courtesy Celestial Buddies.com

When Crew Dragon launched in March, it transported a stuffed “Earth” toy, supplies, and a test dummy to the ISS. The test dummy is a human-shaped model packed with sensors. They measure what a person might experience in spaceflight.

NASA and SpaceX are reviewing the data from both the ISS mission and the accident in April. Engineers are making changes to Crew Dragon to make sure it’s safe. Then more tests will occur.

Eventually, the company wants astronauts to ride aboard Crew Dragon. Shotwell is confident this will happen. “I can’t wait to fly people on the Dragon spaceship,” she says.

When Crew Dragon launched in March, it brought multiple items to the ISS. They included a stuffed “Earth” toy, supplies, and a test dummy. The test dummy is a human-shaped model. It is packed with sensors. The sensors measure what a person might experience in spaceflight. 

NASA and SpaceX are reviewing the data from both tests. Engineers are making changes to Crew Dragon. They want to make sure it’s safe. Then they will do more tests.

Eventually, the company wants astronauts to ride aboard Crew Dragon. Shotwell is confident this will happen. “I can’t wait to fly people on the Dragon spaceship,” she says.

In 2013, SpaceX had 3 rocket launches. In 2018, it had 7 times as many. How many launches were in 2018?

In 2013, SpaceX had 3 rocket launches. In 2018, it had 7 times as many. How many launches were in 2018?

In May 2018, a SpaceX rocket launched 5 satellites for a company. By January 2019, it launched 15 times as many satellites for the same company. How many satellites did SpaceX launch for the company in all?

In May 2018, a SpaceX rocket launched 5 satellites for a company. By January 2019, it launched 15 times as many satellites for the same company. How many satellites did SpaceX launch for the company in all?

One Earth toy costs $22. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Uranus toys each cost the same amount. How much do all 5 planet toys cost?

One Earth toy costs $22. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Uranus toys each cost the same amount. How much do all 5 planet toys cost?

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International Space Station (ISS): Astronauts on the ISS require regular shipments of supplies.

In December 2018, SpaceX took cargo to the ISS. The computer equipment weighed 40 kg. The science equipment weighed 26 times more than the computer equipment. What did the science equipment weigh? Fill in the area model and write an equation.

In December 2018, SpaceX took cargo to the ISS. The computer equipment weighed 40 kg. The science equipment weighed 26 times more than the computer equipment. What did the science equipment weigh? Fill in the area model and write an equation.

On Crew Dragon’s first test flight in March 2019, it carried 180 kilograms of cargo. In December 2018, a similar spacecraft took cargo that was 14 times as heavy. How much cargo did this spacecraft carry? Complete the model and write an equation.

On Crew Dragon’s first test flight in March 2019, it carried 180 kilograms of cargo. In December 2018, a similar spacecraft took cargo that was 14 times as heavy. How much cargo did this spacecraft carry? Complete the model and write an equation.

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