We’ve seen Demo-2 head to space with astronauts and arrive back safely. Yet, that was merely a demo flight test.
What’s the big deal?
SpaceX’s Crew-1 will be the primary and first operational crewed mission to the International Space Station, officially launching the modern era of commercial fleet missions. Dissimilar to Demo-2, Crew-1 will be a jot more cramped, with four travelers on board.
NASA first-timer astronaut, Pilot Victor Glover, along with Mission Specialist Shannon Walker, and SAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. More crew members will also be on board, meaning more Science will be done on the ISS!
What’s up with the Dragon?
The capsule was designed and built to support up to 7 travelers, along with the additional space on the trip being taken up by the freight. For this memorable event, the astronauts named their capsule “Resilience”. Victor Glover said in a video, “Exploration requires resilience, so that name was a reflection of what we’ve seen from our teammates and our partners that we work with at SpaceX, at NASA, and all our international partners that have helped to train and to get us this far and this close to launch”.
How long will the Resilience capsule stay in space?
The Resilience will be en route for approximately a six-month stay, setting yet another record going down in history as the most lasting U.S. capsule being docked on the ISS from American soil.
How long will it take to reach space?
As the capsule makes its way towards the ISS, it will make various procedures before docking autonomously. This mission altogether is presumed to be around 9 hours in full.
Crew-1 will be launching on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
What is the preparation method?
Both companies, SpaceX and NASA required time to go over the data from Demo-2. The latter was crucial for obtaining valuable information on the operation of the vehicle for Crew-1; fortunately, the tweaks that had to be done were nearly insignificant. For instance, the heat shield on the Resilience was made more immune to corrosion. Another minor modification involved interchanging a sensor that is employed for the calculation of the parachute used.
Regarding the crew, Victor and the team acquired quite a lot from Demo-2 astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. They have listened to the latter to discuss their endeavors and experiences. It was reassuring to have two experts validate that it performed like the stimulator did when they were cruising it manually. Moreover, they heard lessons about food-packing, and how to organize things in terms of having 4 individuals as a crew. Above all that, they were told about the views and sounds of Dragon once launched. All this information, and more, was substantially helpful for the group to be prepared and know what to expect. You don’t want unexpected surprises when you’re floating in space
Why was the launch postponed more than once?
Initially, the launch was to occur on August 30, 2020, nevertheless, Crew-1 has been rescheduled many times after that. But it’s all for a good reason.
Space.com wrote: “Originally scheduled to launch August 30, Crew-1 has faced numerous delays in getting off the ground. NASA first pushed the mission to late September, then to October 23, then to October 31, and finally early to mid-November, citing logistic and technical issues”. Therefore, the team wants to be positive that all logistical and technical issues have been addressed. The last adaptation was switching two Merlin engines in the Falcon 9 booster.
No more procrastination, even the weather is on our side.
What Makes Crew Dragon so Special?
SpaceX spent years performing tests and examinations to bolste. However, the specter of failure is fear in numerous hearts and minds. In case something goes astray, they have built an emergency escape system which gives an increased layer of protection for the travelers. Ingeniously installed on the interior of the outer walls of the Crew Dragon are miniature thrusters called SuperDraco engines. The latter is created to kindle during the trip just in case something goes terribly wrong. The SuperDraco can carry the Crew Dragon up and away from a malfunctioning rocket, and once far away the capsule’s parachutes are utilized while dropping the vehicle down slowly into the Atlantic Ocean. How awesome is that, really?!
What does the future hold for NASA and SpaceX?
Once the mission is successfully done and the astronauts are back home on Earth, safe and sound, it will be high time to commence making these trips a habit, which is what the Commercial Crew Program is all about. Both SpaceX and NASA together will share information assembled throughout the test flight and apply this data to verify the Crew Dragon for routine trips to and from ISS.
A super neat fun fact is that to give this affair an Elon Musk touch, the astronauts will be riding to the site in a Tesla Model X!
It is just magnificent what this whole thing has taken to get to this point. From thousands of hours of simulations to more than eight million hours of hardware testing, and now it’s here!