Up to date July 31 at 5 p.m. EDT.
The primary SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to hold astronauts successfully docked with the International Space Station on Might 31 and can return to Earth on Aug. 1-2. See our full protection of the historic mission under.
Elon Musk’s house firm launched its first crewed mission, a test flight called Demo-2 to ship NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the Worldwide Area Station on a Crew Dragon capsule. It lifted off from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle in Florida.
The Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to depart the space station Saturday (Aug. 1) at 7:34 p.m. EDT (2334 GMT), and it’ll splash down within the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday at roughly 2:42 p.m. EDT (1842 GMT), climate allowing.
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What’s Crew Dragon?
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a crewed spacecraft designed to fly astronauts on spherical journeys to the Worldwide Area Station for NASA.
In 2014, NASA picked SpaceX as one among two firms (Boeing was the opposite) to fly astronaut taxi missions to the house station. Crew Dragon is a crewed model of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, an unpiloted car that has been making resupply flights to the station for NASA since 2012.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will carry as much as 4 astronauts on common taxi journeys, however the capsule itself can match as much as seven individuals in all. It launches into house on a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX’s workhorse booster.
Associated: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Space Capsule Explained (Infographic)
Each automobiles are reusable, with SpaceX commonly touchdown Falcon 9 first phases and flying them later. SpaceX has additionally reused a number of Dragon cargo automobiles and goals to do the identical with Crew Dragon.
Not like Cargo Dragon, the Crew Dragon spacecraft has an emergency abort system designed to separate the capsule from its rocket within the occasion of a launch emergency. SpaceX demonstrated that system in a profitable check earlier this 12 months.
Crew Dragon’s service module has a sequence of modern fins, in addition to photo voltaic arrays mounted on to its hull, slightly than in deployable panels like its cargo-only counterpart.
As odd as it could appear, Crew Dragon has two commanders.
The crew for Demo-2 are veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Behnken will function the mission’s joint operations commander whereas Hurley is Crew Dragon spacecraft commander. Each males have flown to house a number of instances.
Robert “Bob” L. Behnken, 49, has flown two house shuttle missions to the Worldwide Area Station and served as NASA’s Chief Astronaut from 2012 to 2015. He launched on the STS-123 mission to ship Japan’s Kibo laboratory to the station in 2008, and later flew STS-130 on Endeavour to ship the Tranquility module. Behnken has carried out six spacewalks and logged greater than 29 days in house to this point.
A local of St. Ann, Missouri, Behnken is a U.S. Air Pressure colonel and check pilot with a doctorate from Caltech in mechanical engineering. He joined NASA’s astronaut corps in July 2000.
Behnken is married to Megan McArthur (additionally a NASA astronaut). They’ve one son. You possibly can observe Behnken on Twitter at @AstroBehnken.
Douglas G. Hurley, 53, is retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who joined NASA’s astronaut corp in 2000 in the identical class as Behnken. Hurley has flown on two shuttle missions, the STS-127 mission on Endeavour in 2009 and the STS-135 mission on Atlantis in 2011. Each missions hauled recent provides and kit to the station. Hurley’s second shuttle flight was NASA’s last mission of the house shuttle program.
Hurley hails from Apalachin, New York and served as a pilot and check pilot for the U.S. Marine Corp. He has diploma in civil engineering from Tulane College in Louisiana and is married to fellow NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg. They’ve one son. Hurley has logged simply over 27 days in house. You possibly can observe him on Twitter at @Astro_Doug.
The way it will get to ISS
On Demo-2, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will take about 19 hours to achieve the Worldwide Area Station.
After liftoff, it’ll take Crew Dragon about 12 minutes to achieve its preliminary orbit. The primary stage of its Falcon 9 rocket will return to Earth to land on a drone ship for future reuse.
Crew Dragon will spend a dozen of so hours chasing the house station, step by step elevating its orbit to the 250-mile (400 kilometers) altitude of the Worldwide Area Station.
If all goes nicely, Crew Dragon will dock itself to the house station on Thursday, Might 28, at 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT). It’ll hyperlink up with docking port on the station’s Concord module, with hatches between the 2 spacecraft at 1:55 p.m. EDT (1755 GMT).
Whereas Crew Dragon is designed to dock itself autonomously, Hurley will take handbook command of the spacecraft throughout the rendezvous to check the car’s flight methods.
How lengthy’s the flight?
That is onerous to say.
NASA and SpaceX haven’t launched a precise date for Crew Dragon’s return to Earth for the Demo-2 mission. However we do know the mission will final at the least one month, and probably as much as 4 months. The precise period will rely upon a number of elements.
First, the mission’s period will rely upon Crew Dragon’s efficiency with astronauts aboard. If the spacecraft performs as deliberate, then there would not be any engineering issues on that finish.
Second, the period may even rely upon Demo-2’s follow-up mission, known as Crew-1, which shall be SpaceX’s first operational mission to the house station for NASA. The Crew-1 Dragon spacecraft is being constructed now. It’ll launch 4 astronauts to the house station later this 12 months.
One factor that’s sure: Crew Dragon has an expiration date. The spacecraft’s photo voltaic arrays are at the moment solely rated for 119 days in house. That places an finish date on the Demo-2 mission within the fall for certain.
The way it lands
Like its uncrewed counterpart, the Crew Dragon spacecraft is provided with a warmth defend and parachutes to return to Earth.
As soon as a touchdown day is recognized for the Demo-2 mission, Behnken and Hurley will pack the spacecraft with gadgets they might need to return to Earth and put together for undocking. On undocking day, Crew Dragon will again away from the station and slowly make its manner outdoors a so-called “keep-out sphere,” a security zone across the orbiting laboratory.
Crew Dragon will then return to Earth the next day. Forward of reentry, the spacecraft will jettison its stubby service module (which incorporates its photo voltaic arrays and different methods) and place itself warmth defend down for the plunge by means of Earth’s environment.
After reentry, Crew Dragon will deploy 4 parachutes to sluggish its descent additional. The spacecraft will splash down within the Atlantic Ocean simply of Florida’s East Coast the place a SpaceX restoration ship shall be able to retrieve Behnken and Hurley inside an hour after touchdown.
Crew Dragon future
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon isn’t a one-customer car.
Whereas SpaceX shall be one among two business firms to fly individuals to the house station for NASA (Boeing is the opposite), its Crew Dragon car is not going to solely carry astronauts for the U.S. house company or its companions. SpaceX has made agreements to fly house vacationers on the spacecraft, and use a Crew Dragon to ferry passengers to the house station for an additional firm.
For the house vacationer deal, SpaceX has an settlement in place with the U.S. house tourism firm Area Adventures to fly four passengers on a free-flying mission Crew Dragon as early as late 2021. That mission will final 5 days and ship as much as 4 individuals an orbital expertise not like any house vacationer flight to this point. The price of that flight as not been launched.
SpaceX has additionally agreed to launch passengers to the International Space Station for the company Axiom Space, which is growing a brand new business module for the station. That mission shall be a 10-day journey to the station for 3 non-public astronauts utilizing a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
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From the vault:
Chances are you’ll be curious about this 2011 story about SpaceX’s first business crew contract. And this 2014 piece particulars the corporate’s receipt of a $2.6 billion deal to finish growth on the Crew Dragon-Falcon 9 system and fly six operational missions to and from the ISS for NASA. (Boeing bought the same deal, as that story stories.)
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the seek for alien life. Observe him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.