PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Someday you may be able to pick up your smartphone and book a trip to the moon.
On May 30, astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, successfully launched into outer space. The mission marks the first successful launch for SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, with crew on board, and the first time in over a decade humans have reached orbit after launching from US Soil.
John Posey, NASA lead engineer for Crew Dragon said the recent SpaceX launch, that he worked on, has paved the way to making this dream a reality.
“Ten years ago, it was kind of hard to imagine getting launch costs down to the point where non-billionaires could book a trip to space,” Posey said. “Right now my main goal is trying to get the commercial ability for access to space and turn it into a reality.”
Posey said that space hotels might also be possible.
“Companies are working on private space stations that could be like an orbiting hotel,” Posey said. “And then this large vehicle that we hope will come in the future, like the Starship that would have the capability to carry 10’s of people at a time.”
Posey said these elements get us closer to space travel mimicking a commercial airline. He said they are developing rockets in new ways and companies like SpaceX are even making them reusable.
Posey played an important role in the history-making launch. He worked with SpaceX and his primary focus was on the Crew Dragon Capsule that keeps the crew alive in space.
“I was focused on the crew cabin and the capsule itself,” Posey said. “I work with an amazing team of engineers spread out across multiple centers.”
Posey said his excitement level was high as he watched this eight-year project come to life.
“You’ve been working on something for the better part of a decade and you keep getting closer and closer to that goal,” Posey said. “As you go through the developmental milestones, it’s incredible to see all of that come together and to be demonstrated on a real day.”
“Even though we were so focused on watching the data and keeping eyes on the vehicle, we were also excited,” Posey said, “I think my Apple Watch told me my heart rate was 130 all day.”
Posey said they were making history but still heavily focused on the task at hand. He said there was no time to stop and think about the significance of the day. But he did take a deep breath once he knew the astronauts were safely on orbit.
When he was 10, Posey took a trip to the Houston Space Visitors Center. He said this was when he first became fascinated with the space industry.
“I still have some drawings I made at the shuttle, and I had that as a goal to work on the space program,” Posey said. “I was also very interested in Star Trek and Star Wars.”
Posey scored a significant souvenir from his mission that he plans to hand down to his son one day.
“When I was out at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne California, I and some other crew members purchased, this model Falcon Dragon from the store,” Posey said. “We were fortunate enough to get Bob and Doug (the demo-two crew) to sign them.”
Posey said he brought it as his good luck charm on launch day.
“We had the model rocket sitting there and once the crew got safely to orbit, I asked my whole team and everyone in the fire room to sign it,” Posey said. “It’s a momento of all the folks that were with us on launch day.”
Posey said his 5-year-old son, Clark has become an unofficial member of his crew after the coronavirus pushed Posey to work from home a lot.
“The joke has been that my son helps me with the review boards and program control boards,” Posey said. “He’ll show up randomly in his astronaut uniform and cheer me on.”
Posey said he was excited to share this special moment with his wife and child.
“He and his mother got to watch the launch from the front yard here at home and all the coverage online,” Posey said. “I’m hoping that everyone’s kids were able to see it or they can go back and watch the replays.”
Posey said he hopes this launch is not only the beginning of a new era but also something that will continue to inspire generations for years to come.