NASA and SpaceX The most important moment of our current space era is at the end of this month with the Demo 2 mission on May 27th. The mission will be the first launch for SpaceX with people on board and for NASA. & # 39; This is the first return to US astronaut launches since the shuttle's last flight in 2011. On Friday, SpaceX and NASA officials informed the media about the mission and the details of what astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley said mounted the Crew Dragon for their first crew performance.
The first thing to note about this mission is that it is still technically a test as stated in the name of the "demo". This is the final stone demonstration in a series of such missions where SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 are fully human-rated for operational use. As noted at today's press conferences, much of the actual human assessment process takes place during this final mission – in fact, most of the actual human final assessment takes place on this flight, despite years of preparation and live testing so far. including the Demo 1 mission, which was essentially a full return flight, with no astronauts on board.
Although technically it is a demonstration, the stake could not be higher – SpaceX has a lot to prove here and has the greatest responsibility to protect Behnken and Hurley for the duration of the mission. What it turns out will actually take longer than originally planned: NASA says the mission will take between 30 and 119 days, depending on a few different factors, the most important of which is how quickly the agency ends up being ready for action The commercial crew's mission, Crew-1, can carry four astronauts, including two from NASA and one from the Japanese Space Agency. The Crew Dragon used for this demo mission was technically able to remain in orbit for more than 200 days, but the purpose of this mission was not originally to occupy the International Space Station, although this is now part of the plan as a sort of route target.
The teams also announced today that the Crew Dragon used for Demo-1 will not only carry the astronauts, but also some cargo for the ISS. SpaceX also flies special ISS replenishment missions with its non-crew kite capsule, but this crew kite will only bring a few extra supplies and scientific materials for the trip.
In terms of the timeline, the mission begins with a start and ascent, followed by separation in the second stage (with attached crew dragon). The first stage booster performs a flip and a "boostback burn", which sets it on the path to return to Earth for the engine landing. Meanwhile, Dragon separates from the second stage in space and goes to the ISS, which, depending on the position of the space station at the time of launch, is reached between two and 48 hours after launch.
The exact start time can vary greatly depending on the weather. From the end of May to June there are a number of starting options if scrubbing is required. The weather during this time in Florida can be somewhat difficult to predict, according to SpaceX's commercial crew leader, and the conditions required to trigger a peel are less severe than on a mission where no people are present , out of a wealth of caution.
Once the Crew Dragon is on its way to the ISS in space, the capsule meets the station through a series of gradual burns and subsequent approach, followed by an automated docking process as soon as it is in close proximity to the station. Crew Dragon has a fully automated docking process and even completely avoids the need for astronauts on board the ISS to capture the spacecraft with the Canadarm robot, which is required for the older Dragon capsules and other Soyuz aircraft with astronauts.
After docking, Crew Dragon is pressurized and the hatch opened to allow the astronauts to board and continue their mission with their colleagues on the station. On board the ISS, Benhken and Hurley will perform tasks, including performing experiments and performing maintenance on the orbital research platform, before finally boarding Crew Dragon, undocking, throwing off the capsule's "trunk" or cargo hold, and burning a deorbit to get back into the re-entry position, and then use parachutes in the earth's atmosphere to slow down the final descent into the Atlantic. It should take approximately 24 hours from departure to hosing down.
Other logistical details shared by the teams conducting the mission are that the crew will enter mandatory quarantine from May 16 and will continue until the mission date. Footgap rule based on COVID-19 and control stations have been set up to make this possible.
The mission itself doesn't sound too complex when broken down step by step, but it's the culmination of years of hard work by both SpaceX and NASA. The United States has not had its own trip to the ISS since 2011, and this is the next one that we have been able to return to an era of regular human space travel on American soil. So it will definitely be something you want to see live when the launch takes place on May 27th.