Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX became the first American private company to successfully deploy NASA Astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission, known as Demo-2, initiated on May 30, when Falcon 9 propelled from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. They tested the spacecraft’s functions and capabilities to ensure it was reliable for future operational missions. Their mission was completed on August 2, as Dragon conducted a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. The brave duo returned safely; Dragon showcased it is a safe vehicle capable of withstanding high-stresses of spaceflight.
The agency is now preparing to launch four astronauts aboard SpaceX’s second crewed flight. “The Crew-1 mission is pending completion of data reviews and certification following NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight,” the agency wrote in a press release. “…NASA certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system allows the agency to regularly fly astronauts to the space station, ending sole reliance on Russia for space station access.” NASA had been dependent on Russia to ferry astronauts to the orbiting laboratory for nearly a decade. SpaceX returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States.
Today, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced when Crew-1 will launch – "NASA & SpaceX are targeting no earlier than October 23 for Crew Dragon’s first operational mission to the Space Station," he wrote. Crew-1 is comprised of three NASA astronauts and one Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut. NASA Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
NEWS: @NASA & @SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Oct. 23 for Crew Dragon’s first operational mission to the @Space_Station with @Astro_illini, @VicGlover, Shannon Walker and @Astro_Soichi, pending certification following a successful Demo-2 test flight. https://t.co/saubpEc2Ms pic.twitter.com/Ug3LyyhTdF— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) August 14, 2020
The astronauts will launch in October atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which will propel them to orbit aboard Dragon, from historic Launch Pad 39A. Their mission is expected to be a longer duration stay at the space station. Crew-1 astronauts will make-up Expedition 64 and stay at the orbiting lab for around 6 months conducting scientific experiments in microgravity. “Crew-1 will launch in late October to accommodate spacecraft traffic for the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation and best meet the needs of the International Space Station,” the agency detailed, “…The launch timeframe also allows for a crew handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission next spring.”
The astronauts are undergoing training at NASA and SpaceX facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida, as well as SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and Johnson Space Center Mission Control in Houston, Texas. – “Most of the space training will be conducted in Los Angeles, California, [at] SpaceX headquarters. Some of the training will take place in Houston, Texas so I will be moving between those two states,” Noguchi shared.
MEET CREW-1 ASTRONAUTS
NASA Astronaut Micheal Hopkins, Crew-1 commander. Hopkins is a Colonel in the Air Force, where he was a flight test engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. He’s spent 166 days on the International Space Station for Expeditions 37 and 38, and conducted two spacewalks.
NASA Astronaut Victor Glover, will be the spacecraft's Pilot and joint-commander during SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission. Glover is a Navy Commander, Naval aviator and test pilot with almost 3,000 hours flying in more than 40 different aircraft, 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions. He was selected as part of the 2013 astronaut candidate class, and the Crew-1 mission will be his first spaceflight.
NASA Astronaut Shannon Walker is a flight engineer. She was selected by the agency in 2004 as part of the 19th class of astronauts. In 2010, she spent a total of 163 days aboard the orbiting space station during Expeditions 24 and 25. Where Walker conducted more than 130 micro-gravity experiments ranging from research in biology and biotechnology to technology development in Earth and space sciences. Astronaut Walker also conducted three extravehicular activity missions, spacewalks, in which she was tasked to remove and replace a failed pump module outside the station.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will also be a mission specialist during SpaceX’s upcoming Crew Dragon mission. Noguchi is a Japanese aeronautical engineer. His first spaceflight was as a Mission Specialist aboard a Space Shuttle for NASA in July 2005. In 2009, He lived at the International Space Station as part of Expedition 22.