SpaceX added a new Crew Dragon spacecraft to its reusable fleet. The company now has three upgraded vehicles to conduct crewed spaceflights. SpaceX already performed four crewed missions to space with a pair of spacecraft called: Crew Dragon Endeavour and Crew Dragon Resilience. Three of those missions were to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The fourth spaceflight was the recent Inspiration4 mission that launched the world’s first all-civilian crew to orbit Earth in September.
SpaceX is now ready to launch its fifth crewed flight with a brand new Dragon. The upcoming spaceflight will be the third operational mission for NASA, known as ‘Crew-3'. On Thursday, October 7, Crew-3 Commander NASA astronaut Raja Chari revealed SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon spacecraft is called ‘Endurance.’ He will ride the capsule alongside NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Crew-3 is expected to work six months at the ISS Lab. Chari and Marshburn will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively. Maurer and Barron will serve as a mission specialists. It will be the first trip to space for Chari, Maurer, and Barron. "It's hard to express adequately how excited we are as a crew," Crew-3 Mission Specialist Barron said during a press conference on October 7 (video linked below). "We're definitely feeling ready to launch in just over three weeks.”
Liftoff is scheduled for Saturday, October 30 at 2:43 a.m. EDT. A Falcon 9 will propel to orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad-39A in Florida. A backup launch opportunity is scheduled for Halloween day on Sunday, October 31 at 2:21 a.m. EDT. “Launch on Oct. 30 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early the next day after an approximate 22-hour journey for a short overlap with the astronauts who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission,” the agency said.
In a video, Chari shared that the crew decided to name the spacecraft ‘Endurance’ because the name is “a tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit, as we push humans and machines farther than we ever have,” he said. “[…] It is “also a nod to the fact that the development teams, the production teams, [and] the training teams that got us here have endured through a pandemic,” Chari added. “And then of course, just the fact that we are going to reuse this vehicle. So, one of the really cool things about the SpaceX Dragon is, we'll be the first ones to use Endurance, but it won't be the last time it's used.” You can watch the short video clip below.
The new Crew Dragon Endurance vehicle that will transport Crew-3 to the orbiting laboratory has new features and software upgrades. “There's a lot of innovation in the Dragon,” Chari shared. “t's just a beautiful spacecraft in terms of human factors and the automation.” SpaceX improved the capsule’s communications system to make it more resilient through radiation effects while it is docked to ISS Harmony module for six months. NASA says that SpaceX engineers also added “more cleaning techniques to cut down on foreign object debris” inside the capsule. They also improved the spacecraft’s computer performance for re-entry and enhanced the vehicle’s docking procedures. SpaceX also fixed a issues with Dragon’s on-board toilet system that caused minor inconvenience during the Inspiration-4 orbital mission that carried the all-civilian crew.
🧑🚀 TUNE IN: Meet the astronauts of #Crew3 ahead of their Oct. 30 launch to the @Space_Station! Learn about the mission and hear from the crew. Submit your questions using #AskNASA: https://t.co/BCzyfvf81n— NASA (@NASA) October 7, 2021
Featured Image Source: NASA