SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavor” on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket leaves the SpaceX integration hangar next to Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center to be launched on April 16, 2021.
SpaceX is said to make history when Elon Musk’s The space company is preparing to launch the Crew 2 mission for NASA on Friday morning.
NASA and SpaceX completed a series of pre-mission checks, slated to launch on Friday at 5:49 a.m. ET from Launchpad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch marks the SpaceX crew’s third launch in the last 12 months and the first time both a reused rocket and capsule have been launched.
“It’s super cool to have the opportunity to do this so quickly. In fact … in less than a year we will have flown as many people in this partnership with NASA as we have flown in the Mercury program” said Benji, senior director of SpaceX Reed, said during a press conference earlier this week.
Mercury was launched in 1958 and was the first US human space program. That included Alan Shepard’s launch as the first American in space. The Mercury program has flown six people into space in five years, a sum that SpaceX compared to its Demo 2 and Crew 1 missions last year.
The Crew 2 mission increases SpaceX’s astronaut numbers to 10.
“A lot of firsts and a lot of good things happen,” said Reed. “In less than 11 months, the joint NASA and SpaceX teams were able to certify reuse, so we’re flying … NASA astronauts on a flight-tested kite and a flight-tested hawk.”
“Flying reused vehicles and flight-tested vehicles is the key to greater flight reliability and lower cost of access to space, which ultimately helps us make life multi-planetary,” added Reed.
NASA and SpaceX are monitoring the weather in both the Florida region and the Atlantic. The start of the flight was previously planned for Thursday, but the rough seas delayed the start. The ocean must be calm in the direction in which the missile takes off in case an abort in flight causes the capsule to splash down after liftoff.
“Downrange weather is a little more difficult as this high pressure system moves over the Arkansas area that is being combined with this front [and] causing some pretty strong winds in some areas and some pretty high waves, “said Joel Montalbano, NASA program manager for the International Space Station.
The Crew Dragon capsule must meet with the ISS in orbit. So if SpaceX doesn’t launch on Friday, the company will wait two days until Monday for the next launch opportunity.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and optimized its Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which provided the company with $ 3.1 billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions.
Commercial Crew is a competitive program, as has been awarded by NASA Boeing with $ 4.8 billion in contracts to develop its Starliner spacecraft – but This competing capsule is still under development due to an unscrewed flight test in December 2019, which brought significant challenges.
Crew-2 is the second of these six missions for SpaceX. NASA is now benefiting from the investments it has made in developing the company’s spacecraft.
NASA emphasizes that SpaceX not only gives the agency the ability to send astronauts into space, but also a cost saving option also. The agency estimates $ 55 million per astronaut to fly Crew Dragon, as opposed to $ 86 million per astronaut to fly with the Russians. NASA estimated last year that two private companies were competing for contracts saved the agency between $ 20 billion and $ 30 billion in development costs.
The company completed a dress rehearsal for Crew-2 on Sunday, during which the quartet of astronauts practiced dressing and drove to the launchpad in pairs Tesla Model Xs used by SpaceX to transport the crew.
From left: Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet from ESA, Pilot Megan McArthur from NASA, Commander Shane Kimbrough from NASA and Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA.
The Crew 2 mission will carry an international group of four astronauts: NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Kimbrough, the spacecraft commander, was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2004. Crew-2 will mark its third voyage into space after flying the space shuttle in 2008 and a Russian Soyuz in 2016. He has completed six spacewalks and spent more than a total of six months in orbit. Kimbrough came to NASA via the US Army, where he was a helicopter operator and served on Operation Desert Storm.
McArthur, the Crew 2 pilot, was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000. McArthur is from California and joined as U.C. after completing his PhD in oceanography. to the space agency. San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She flew on the space shuttle to the last Hubble space telescope maintenance mission in 2009 and worked as a flight engineer.
Notably, she will also be seated in the same seat as her husband and fellow astronaut Bob Behnken last May when he piloted SpaceX’s Demo 2 mission. Their 7-year-old son Theo will have seen his two parents take off for the space station last year, SpaceX’s Reed pointed out.
“In my heart I know there’s a little boy out there whose mom flies, and that’s something we pay a lot of attention to. We keep asking ourselves: would we be ready to fly our families in these vehicles?” ” Said Reed.
NASA astronaut Bob Behnken hugs his wife and fellow astronaut Megan McArthur and their son Theo before the SpaceX Crew-1 launch in May 2020.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Hoshide flies as the Crew-2 mission specialist. He is the head of the astronaut group of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and has already flown twice into space with the Space Shuttle 2008 and the Russian Soyuz 2012.
Pesquet also flies as the Mission Specialist for Crew-2, who was selected as an astronaut for the European Space Agency in 2009. It has previously flown into space after taking off on a Soyuz in 2016.
The four astronauts entered the traditional pre-launch quarantine on April 8 to prepare for flight.
The quarantine, known within NASA as “stabilizing the health of the flight crew”, ensures that the astronauts stay healthy and protected for the two weeks leading up to take-off.
Shortly after landing with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on board in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on Sunday, August 2, 2020, the spacecraft SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor will embark on the rescue ship SpaceX GO Navigator upscale.
NASA / Bill Ingalls
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule has been reused after being reused flew the Demo-2 mission last May. The spacecraft, dubbed the “Endeavor” by astronauts Behnken and Doug Hurley, has undergone a thorough inspection and testing process to ensure that it is suitable for the launch of the Crew 2 mission.
“We have taken thousands and thousands of tests to get to this day, as we always have in the past and will continue to do. We talk a lot about these types of assessments that we do; we call them paranoia- Reviews. “Said Reed.
Crew Dragon is an evolved version of the company’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft that was launched 21 times for the space station. Just as Cargo Dragon was the first privately developed spaceship to bring supplies to the ISS, Crew Dragon is the first privately developed spaceship to bring people.
Crew Dragon is designed in such a way that up to seven passengers can be carried into space at the same time.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, named Endeavor, will be lifted from April 13, 2021 in Launch Complex 39A of NASA Kennedy Space Center and connected to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX plans to continue to reuse its Crew Dragon capsules. Reed notes that the company is working with NASA to review components and determine if additional qualifications are required between flights.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on board is seen taxiing to Launch Complex 39A as preparations for the Crew-2 mission on Friday, April 16, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be continued.
NASA / Aubrey Gemignani
Crew Dragon launches on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the booster (the large, lower part of the rocket) in place The Crew 1 mission previously started in November before landing on the company’s floating autonomous barge in the Atlantic.
SpaceX conducted a static fire on the rocket on Saturday, which fired the nine engines on the launch pad for seven seconds.
Falcon 9 has become the workhorse of the growing SpaceX fleet. The rocket is nearly 30 meters high and can put up to 25 tons into near-Earth orbit. The Falcon 9 series is qualified to fly up to 10 flights, and SpaceX continues to push the boundaries of reusability in satellite launches.
“Right now we’re working with NASA [and] We are certified for this upcoming reuse, “Reed said.” We are continuing to work as a team to assess how many more flights we can reuse Falcons on. “
NASA’s Steve Stich noted that the agency and SpaceX had resolved a problem with the rocket and discovered that there was more liquid oxygen loaded on board than needed. NASA and SpaceX “concluded, however, that this amount of liquid oxygen in the first phase is well in the family of guidelines,” said Stich, so the company will move forward with the launch as planned.
The astronauts will get up four hours before take-off. About half an hour later, the crew will be heading for their Model X rides with NASA logos going from the astronaut quarters to the launchpad.
Another two and a half hours, the astronauts buckle up in Crew Dragon and check that all systems are operational. Then, with just under two hours to take off, the hatch to the spaceship is closed.
SpaceX will begin fueling the rocket 35 minutes before launch, initiating a final series of processes and verifications.
A few minutes after takeoff, the Falcon 9’s booster stage returns and attempts to land on the company’s Atlantic-based barge.
Should anything go wrong in the last half hour before takeoff or even during takeoff, Crew Dragon will abort and fire its emergency escape system. The Company tested this system in January with no one in the spaceship. In this test, SpaceX triggered the system during the most intense part of the launch to show that it could be done at any time.
Crew-2 is scheduled to dock with the ISS approximately 24 hours later, around 5:10 a.m. EDT on Saturday. The Crew 1 astronauts are still on board, and their Crew Dragon ‘Resilience’ is docked on the ISS. NASA is prepared for the combined crews to spend between five and 20 days together before Crew-1 returns to Earth.
“Well, you have some temporary sleep arrangements for the crew because we have so many people,” said Montalbano.
Crew-2 will then conduct a full-term mission on the ISS and spend approximately six months on board.