Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX made history when it launched America’s first crewed rocket flight in nearly a decade, on May 30th. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying a pair of NASA astronauts, form the John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken reached orbit and conducted a 19-hour voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the spacecraft. They arrived at the ISS orbiting laboratory on May 31; Dragon docked to the station’s Harmony module. The astronaut duo joined NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy, Russian Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, as members of Expedition 63. They are actively performing science experiments and conducted two spacewalks last week to upgrade the space station’s power system.
Deputy ISS Program Manager Kenneth Todd said that if all continues to go smoothly, NASA and SpaceX will return Behnken and Hurley home aboard Dragon on August 2. Before their return, Hurley and Behnken are tasked with inspecting Dragon’s performance in orbit. NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders shared the astronauts would conduct a Crew Dragon habitability test. “One of the things we want to make sure of is how comfortable is the vehicle with all 4 crew members in. How able are you to do all the tasks you need to do with all 4 crew members in it and we're getting ready to do that demonstration,” Lueders said. SpaceX's next mission, Crew-1, will deploy four astronauts aboard Crew Dragon later this year. Dragon is capable of carrying up to seven passengers and over 7,000 pounds of cargo aboard.
Today, July 8, four out of the five astronauts at the orbiting laboratory hopped into the Dragon spacecraft while docked. “Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon today. This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year,” NASA wrote in a press release this afternoon. The astronauts who participated during Crew Dragon’s habitability test are: Hurley, Behnken, Cassidy, and Ivanishin. The agency stated:
“NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who piloted the Crew Dragon, will be joined by station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for the one-hour habitability test. The crew will arrange the cabin to suit the four-space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground.”
The vehicle's environmental control and life support system provides a comfortable and safe environment for its passengers. According to SpaceX, the crew on board can set the spacecraft's interior temperature to between 65- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. “While they were setting up Crew Dragon for the test, the three NASA astronauts also had time for ultrasound eye scans, microfluid studies, and orbital plumbing work. The two cosmonauts, including Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner, juggled a variety of Russian space research and tested Soyuz crew ship communications gear,” the agency shared.
The video linked below gives a glimpse of Crew Dragon’s interior. Above the spacecraft’s seats, there is a control panel consisting of three screens with touchscreen display. The craft also has a restroom toilet section with a privacy curtain; first-aid, and fire-extinguishing equipment. The crew is expected to also run through emergency procedures aboard Dragon to assess how well the spacecraft is suited for a larger crew. The comfort test will give SpaceX insight towards possible improvements that could be made for future crews.
CHECK OUT CREW DRAGON'S INTERIOR!