SpaceX officially returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States this year. The aerospace company and NASA are ready to conduct operational missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The next astronaut crew, known as Crew-1, will launch atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a voyage to the orbiting laboratory. The agency targets the mission for October 31 at 2:40 a.m. Eastern Time; Launch will be from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will be the second crewed flight launched from American soil in nearly a decade. The astronauts that will conduct the first operational mission are: Three NASA astronauts - Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, joint-commander Pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker, along with one Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who will also be a mission specialist. Crew-1 will make-up Expedition 64 and stay at the space station for six months conducting scientific experiments in microgravity.
Crew Dragon can carry up to seven passengers; It is the first private company American spacecraft to operate autonomously and successfully transport humans to and from the space station
Today, SpaceX announced there will soon be two Dragon spacecrafts docked to the space station. –“After launch of Crew Dragon’s first operational mission with astronauts on board, SpaceX will launch its 21st cargo resupply mission to the ISS – the first to use the upgraded version of Dragon outfitted for cargo missions,” the company stated via Twitter. “Once this Dragon docks to the space station, there will be two Dragons docked simultaneously. Between crew and cargo missions, there will be at least one Dragon spacecraft attached to the space station for the entirety of 2021.”
Once this Dragon docks to the @space_station, there will be two Dragons docked simultaneously. Between crew and cargo missions, there will be at least one Dragon spacecraft attached to the @space_station for the entirety of 2021— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2020
SpaceX is currently preparing a cargo variant of the Dragon spacecraft that will carry vital equipment to the ISS Lab sometime next year, pictured above. Some of the equipment may include tools to renovate the station, materials to conduct scientific experiments in microgravity, and even live animals like mice that are often used to test the effects of space travel. Dragon is capable of launching a bit over 13,000 pounds of cargo and returning around 6,000 pounds safely, SpaceX says it is “the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth.”
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.