Featured Image Source: NASA
SpaceX successfully deployed a pair of NASA astronauts aboard Crew Dragon to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 30th. They will complete their demonstration mission and return aboard the spacecraft next week, on August 2nd. About a month after their return, SpaceX will conduct its first operational mission for NASA and JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The company is preparing to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station – “The launch is targeted for no earlier than late-September, following a successful return from the space station and evaluation of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley,” the agency wrote in a press release. The next mission is referred to as Crew-1, will launch three NASA astronauts and one JAXA astronaut to the space station aboard a new Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker – all of NASA – along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi will launch on the Crew-1 mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,” the agency wrote. The Crew-1 operational 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. They have all been training for spacewalks through virtual reality tools and swimming pools. Astronaut Glover shared his excitement through photographs via Twitter of his training, shown below.
We use simulations often, like the T-38 aircraft simulator to supplement actual flying. pic.twitter.com/J0hcAJcZnB— Victor Glover (@VicGlover) July 14, 2020
On July 24, JAXA Astronaut Noguchi shared he and the NASA trio “completed water egress training at Cape Canaveral this week,” adding – “Splashdown is no problem!” alongside a collection of photographs via Twitter, pictured below. During water egress training, the astronauts simulate how it would be returning from space aboard the Dragon spacecraft. Upon return, Dragon conducts a parachute-assisted landing in the ocean where rescue teams will search for them. Crossing Earth’s atmosphere is risky; in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, like the spacecraft getting damaged or on fire, the astronauts must train to escape the spacecraft and navigate in the seawater. Astronauts must be prepared for any potential situation.
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.
Crew 1 astronauts – NASA's @VicGlover, @Astro_illini, & Shannon Walker, plus @JAXA_en’s @Astro_Soichi -- continue training on @space_station systems in preparation for the first operational Crew Dragon launch later this year. Keep up with @Commercial_Crew: https://t.co/dlyBoUlfEN pic.twitter.com/d0locyEaZk— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) July 8, 2020
MEET CREW-1 ASTRONAUTS
NASA Astronaut Victor Glover, the spacecraft's joint-commander. He will make history as the first African-American to launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. 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 Micheal Hopkins, Crew-1 joint-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 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 on July 2005. In 2009, He lived at the International Space Station as part of Expedition 22.