Featured Image Source: SpaceX / Crew-1 Astronauts
For the first time in almost a decade, the United States will launch Astronauts from American soil. SpaceX is preparing to conduct its first crewed mission under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA Astronauts, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley, will launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission is referred to as Demo-2, scheduled for May 27th at 4:32 p.m. EDT. a Falcon 9 rocket will liftoff from historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“This is a high priority mission for the United States of America. We as a nation have not had our own access to the International Space Station for nine years.”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on May 1st, “At the same time, we’ve had American astronauts on the International Space Station for 20 years in a row, and they’ve been doing these absolutely stunning experiments and discoveries and advancing the human condition from the microgravity of space.”
Demo-2 will be a demonstration flight to the International Space Station, meant to certify the Dragon spacecraft can safely and reliably take astronauts to the orbiting laboratory. Upon mission completion, Dragon will earn a human-rating certification. “Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will go up as not just demonstration pilots for Demo-2, but they would actually become crew on-board the International Space Station for a period of months to do work, and they would continue to operate on the ISS. And then when we’re ready with the next Crew Dragon, they’ll come home,” he stated. The craft will stay docked for about two or three months to the station, then they will return to Earth aboard the spacecraft. “We will do a full evaluation of the Demo-2 Crew Dragon, so we’ll be on Earth for about a month with the Demo-2 Crew Dragon just doing inspections and evaluations and making sure that it’s safe,” Bridenstine said, “... Then when we make sure that it operated how we expected it to operate, we’ll be ready to launch right into crewed missions for normal operations.”
NASA aims to conduct the first operational mission, referred to as Crew-1, about a month after Demo-2 mission is completed, when Dragon returns astronauts Behnken and Hurley to Earth. The agency says Crew-1 could launch to space sometime in August. SpaceX is already preparing a Falcon 9 for the first crewed operational mission to the space station. The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch Crew-1 into orbit underwent a successful static-fire test on April 24th this preflight preparation ensures the rocket is working optimally. – “The team at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas completed a static fire test today of the Falcon 9 first stage that will launch Crew Dragon’s first operational mission (Crew-1) with 3 NASA astronauts and 1 JAXA astronaut on board later this year,” SpaceX announced.
Source: SpaceX / Crew-1
SpaceX shared a collection of photographs of the Crew-1 astronauts training and the Dragon spacecraft that is under development to perform the Crew-1 mission, the second crewed flight. The company stated:
“Once Demo-2 is complete, and the SpaceX and NASA teams have reviewed all the data for certification, SpaceX will launch Crew Dragon’s first six-month operational mission (Crew-1) later this year. The Crew-1 spacecraft is in production and astronaut training is well underway.”
Once Demo-2 is complete, and the SpaceX and NASA teams have reviewed all the data for certification, SpaceX will launch Crew Dragon’s first six-month operational mission (Crew-1) later this year. The Crew-1 spacecraft is in production and astronaut training is well underway pic.twitter.com/SVMQMkK6AB— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 1, 2020
The astronauts who will conduct Crew-1 mission are:
-NASA Astronaut Victor Glover, the spacecraft's commander. He will become the first African-American astronaut to live and work aboard the International Space Station.
Glover is 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, joint spacecraft 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, mission specialist.
Walker is a flight engineer. She was selected by NASA 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, is currently undergoing training to ride Dragon alongside NASA astronauts. He will also be a mission specialist.
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.
Crew-1 will be part of Expedition 62/63 and stay at the orbiting lab for six months conducting scientific experiments. Noguchi shared that Crew-1 is undergoing training at NASA facilities in Texas and at SpaceX in California, he said:
“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."
Launching astronauts again from American soil is a huge deal. It will ignite a new era to pave the way towards taking the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024, under the agency's Artemis program.
About the Author
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.