Featured Image Source: NASA / Astronaut Chris Cassidy
This week, NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy shared unique footage of SpaceX Crew Dragon’s debut crewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS) from his perspective at the orbiting laboratory. He alongside Russian cosmonauts watched the live-stream from space on May 30th, as a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida, propelling the Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken. – “While Dragon was breathing fire, Anatoly, Vagner, and I were busy trying to capture photos of NASA Kennedy & the launch. You could feel the excitement in all three of us knowing that rocket was zipping up hill to meet us the next day. Honored to be part of this historic event!” Cassidy captioned a video he shared via Twitter, shown below.
While Dragon was breathing fire, Anatoly, @ivan_mks63 & I were busy trying to capture photos of @NASAKennedy & the launch. You could feel the excitement in all three of us knowing that rocket was zipping up hill to meet us the next day. Honored to be part of this historic event! https://t.co/Ov1Oi8iWdL— Chris Cassidy (@Astro_SEAL) July 10, 2020
The successful astronaut deployment was the first voyage launched from American soil in nearly a decade! Astronaut Cassidy took a photograph of the launch pad at KSC from space, and also captured footage from the ISS Lab of Dragon approaching the station’s Harmony module. Dragon features the capability to dock autonomously; It docked on May 31st. The video below was released by NASA this week, it is about Astronaut Cassidy witnessing Dragon’s arrival to ISS.
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Astronauts Hurley and Behnken called the Crew Dragon craft, ‘Endeavour’. The mission known as Demo-2 [DM-2] is a demonstration flight meant to test out the spacecraft in orbit to certify it works well for future operational missions. This week, the astronauts performed a ‘habitability test’ aboard Crew Dragon, to see how comfortable a crew of four would be inside. For 1-hour, four out of five astronauts at ISS performed a 'comfort test' inside the docked spacecraft on July 8. The crew arranged the “cabin to suit the four-space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground,” NASA wrote in a press release, “Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon...This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year.”
Steve Stich, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager, told reporters the teams at SpaceX’s mission control and astronauts at the space station have been “learning how to manage the systems, heaters and thermal performance as we go through the changes in the orbit” while Dragon Endeavour is docked to the ISS module. Stitch shared they are surprised that the craft’s solar arrays are generating more power than expected. Dragon features solar panels at its trunk that have been out-performing what SpaceX officials had originally predicted.
NASA and SpaceX will return Behnken and Hurley home aboard Dragon Endeavour on August 2nd. Then, sometime in mid-September SpaceX is expected to conduct the operational Crew-1 mission which will deploy four astronauts to the ISS orbiting laboratory. Three are NASA Astronauts: Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, and Shannon Walker. The other is Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.