SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts went over their training ahead of launching to the orbiting laboratory aboard Crew Dragon. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and European Space Agency (ESA) Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 15th. A thrice-flown Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida [time pending]. Crew-4 will be SpaceX’s fourth operational mission under NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). It will mark the company’s seventh crewed flight, after it launches the Axiom AX-1 crew to ISS on March 30th.
The Crew-4 astronauts trained with a Crew Dragon replica simulator at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Even though Dragon operates autonomously, they must learn how to manually pilot the spacecraft in case it is needed and train for any kind of potential emergency in outer space. "During recent training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the crew participated in simulations focused on undocking and departing from the space station. All four astronauts practiced in a high-fidelity simulator of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, complete with flight-realistic hardware, displays, and seats," NASA shared in a press release.
In 2020, SpaceX released an interactive online simulator that is similar to what astronauts use to train. The interactive simulator is like a game that allows players to try to dock the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the Space Station using similar controls the astronauts use during their space voyage. “Crew Dragon missions will autonomously dock and undock with the space station, but crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary,” said SpaceX. Play the online game here: SpaceX Crew Dragon ISS Docking Simulator
"Each astronaut gained experience suiting up and configuring the spacecraft for departure. Commander Lindgren and pilot Hines took their places in the center seats, with access to flight displays they’ll use to monitor the spacecraft’s status and, if needed, take manual control of the spacecraft," the agency said. The "[...] simulations introduce system failures and other challenges to give teams the opportunity to prepare for and understand potential anomalies that could arise during a spaceflight, all while arming the crew with the skills needed for effectively overcoming these challenges." Crew-4 recently went over emergency preparedness training at the Kennedy Space Center. They visited the launch tower at Launch Complex 39A to train on the emergency egress system, which uses slide wire baskets that enable crew and personnel to quickly evacuate from the 265-foot-level launch tower in the event of an emergency.
The astronauts must escape the Dragon spacecraft in less than 90 seconds, run out and pass through a fire suppression system that sprays water on the crew access tower's arm. Then, everyone loads into the zipline-wire baskets to slide-down the tower as quickly as possible. Each basket can carry three individuals down to safety where Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are stationed at the launch pad perimeter. MRAP's armor is so thick that each door weighs 600 pounds. Besides being bulletproof it is also explosion-resistant and can rescue astronauts at the launch pad during a fire. The entire escape operation is performed in less than 5-minutes. NASA and SpaceX teams completed the series of exercises to ensure each astronaut knows what to do in case of an emergency on the ground. The astronauts also practice different emergency procedures aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The Crew-4 astronauts will work at the orbiting laboratory for six months as part of the ISS Expedition 67/68. After their long-duration mission is completed, the brave quartet will return aboard Crew Dragon with a parachute-assisted splashdown in the ocean. "To become more familiar with recovery operations, the astronauts found their sea legs aboard SpaceX’s Dragon recovery vessels that will be used by joint SpaceX and NASA teams to pick up the crew following splashdown at the end of their mission. Two identical vessels cover potential landing zones off of the coast of Florida. The astronauts also toured one of SpaceX’s hangars where Falcon 9 rockets are refurbished and prepared for flight," said NASA. Crew-4 will launch atop a Falcon 9 booster that previously conducted three flights. Read more in the previous TESMANIAN article: SpaceX plans to reuse a thrice-flown Falcon 9 rocket to launch Crew-4 astronauts to the Space Station
SpaceX plans to reuse a thrice-flown Falcon 9 rocket to launch Crew-4 astronauts to the Space Station https://t.co/ZldSTJO0cS— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) March 5, 2022
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.