Featured Image Source: NASA
SpaceX reignited the pride America felt when NASA launched astronauts from the United States. On May 30th, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched NASA Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center on a voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). The United States had not launched crew on American spacecraft since 2011. The astronauts named the spacecraft, ‘Dragon Endeavour.’ They joined Astronaut Chris Cassidy at the ISS laboratory and are now conducting scientific experiments as part of Expedition 63.
Today, June 24, the agency hosted a press conference, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stitch said –
“SpaceX is an incredible partner. Its been an incredible team working…for many, many years to get both Dragon and F9 [Falcon 9] ready to go. Incredible engineering; Incredible team.”
Stitch was asked when Behnken and Hurley will return home aboard Dragon Endeavour. He shared Behnken will conduct an Extravehicular Activity (EVA), which is a spacewalk, before returning home. –“It looks like the first opportunity to undock and come home would be around August the second. We just have to sort of see how the EVA’s go,” Stitch said, “And then we are really trying to set us up for allow that timeframe in August to come home. So, that’s the first opportunity around August 2.”
“… Sometimes things go according to plan, sometimes they go off schedule,” he added.
This week Expedition 63 crew prepared and inspected their spacesuits for the upcoming pair spacewalks. The spacewalks will be conducted by Flight Engineer Behnken and ISS Commander Cassidy, as Flight Engineer Hurley assists them by controlling the station’s robotic arm called ‘Canadaarm2.’ The first spacewalk is scheduled for Friday, June 25 at 7:35 a.m. EDT. The second spacewalk is scheduled for July 1 at 7:20 a.m. EDT. NASA will live-stream the event. “Cassidy and Behnken will set their spacesuits to internal power on Friday around 7:35 a.m. EDT officially beginning their spacewalk,” the agency wrote in a press release. Astronaut Hurley will assist the duo to put on their spacesuits. During the spacewalk, Behnken and Cassidy are tasked with switching the Space Station’s batteries. They will change the old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on a structure called 'Starboard-6'. These batteries are used to store solar energy from the station’s solar arrays. “We are going with newer technology with the lithium-ion battery. Basically, a newer technology with a smaller footprint. You can get way more [energy] storage capacity on orbit, which is the reason that we made the leap of technology several years ago… ‘Let’s go from nickel-hydrogen to lithium-ion’, so, for the past four years now, over four years, we have been slowly swapping out from the nickel-hydrogen to the lithium-ion,” ISS Deputy Program Manager Kenny Todd explained.
Spacewalking is no easy task, but our @NASA_Astronauts train extensively for these moments. This animation show how @AstroBehnken and @Astro_SEAL will work in the vacuum of space to finish replacing the @Space_Station's batteries. https://t.co/UuHV6g2IUE pic.twitter.com/hh8PBtI3mJ— NASA (@NASA) June 24, 2020
NASA created an animated depiction of what Astronaut Behnken and Cassidy will do during their upcoming spacewalk mission. The video, shown above, explains step-by-step, what they will be tasked to do. Behnken shared his excitement with a screenshot of the animation via Twitter – “Here is the simulated view from my worksite during upcoming Space Station spacewalks. Should be an awesome view of the SpaceX Dragon capsule now known as Endeavour!” he wrote.
After the two spacewalks are successfully completed, the astronauts will return in August, Dragon Endeavour will take a fiery plunge through Earth’s atmosphere with Behnken and Hurley aboard. It will be the first time SpaceX returns humans from space. Then, Endeavour will conduct a parachute-assisted landing in the Atlantic Ocean, where SpaceX recovery teams will be ready to pick them up.
Watch today's NASA conference in the video linked below:
LIVE: Hear our experts talk about @NASA_Astronauts' upcoming June 26 and July 1 spacewalks.— NASA (@NASA) June 24, 2020
🔋 The battery replacement work to be completed by @Astro_SEAL & @AstroBehnken is the culmination of power upgrades that began in 2017.
Ask ?s using #AskNASA: https://t.co/UuHV6g2IUE