It’s no longer a news unless maybe you never heard that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket was used to launch humans into orbit, International Space Station to be precise and the trip was successful which makes it the first time the private company will be partaking in such task as it usually deliver packages only to orbit back until Saturday, 30th.
The docking of the Crew Dragon marked a tremendous achievement by the company and that opens up more future in the future for more space traveling and tourism just as Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO had visioned it.
The trip by both NASA astronauts; Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will allow them to stay on the ISS for about four months as they’re set to begin an extended stay on the Space Station where they were welcomed by three other crew members who were already on the station – NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
“It’s been a real honor to be a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a United States spaceship docked with the International Space Station,” Hurley said after docking completed. “We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX, at Hawthorne McGregor and at Kennedy Space Center. Their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible can not go overstated.”
The SpaceX’s capsule was a really advanced space vehicle which utilizes a variety of technology including touchscreen displays with which crew members were able to see and understand the events going on as they flew to the ISS. The vehicle is made to be autonomous and did so by docking with the ISS using various sensors and and cameras which allowed it to guide itself towards the ISS right above earth.
Compared to the previous vehicle used by SpaceX to deliver food and supplies to astronauts in the ISS, the cargo Dragon, it never used advanced technology and autonomous tech like the Crew Dragon. The former would latch on to the ISS via the station’s robotic arm which would guide the Cargo dragon onto it’s docking port a technique known as Berthing which requires a lot of work from astronauts on board the ISS. But the autonomous ability of the Crew dragon is a big leap forward to how technology will put humans back into deep space such as the Moon and Mars.
Though everything inside the Crew Dragon capsule is designed to be automated, there is an override which would allow the astronauts on board to take manual control of the capsule if they so want it. But the fact that the cockpit is well designed with touchscreen control system makes it even more fascinating. This aesthetics can be seen in products made by Elon Musk’s other company Tesla which uses giant monitors in cars which are super sleek and on there, users can control every bit of the car by merely touching things on the display compared to older technology used in cars and int his case, older space shuttle with a super rigid cockpit with innumerable buttons, keys, controls and so much more.
The trip had lasted for some 19 hours before thy finally made it to the ISS as the Crew Dragon had initially orbited around Earth after the launch. After they got to the orbit, both crewed astronauts annonced the name of the capsule as “Endeavour” and stated the reason for picking the name “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons: one, because of this incredible endeavor NASA, SpaceX, and the United States has been on since the end of the Shuttle program back in 2011,” Hurley said during an event right after launching to space. “The other reason we named it Endeavour is a little more personal to Bob and I. We both had our first flights on Shuttle Endeavour, and it just meant so much to us to carry on that name.”
The astronauts also took some time off by closing their eyes before the Crew Dragon dock to the ISS. “We had a good night’s sleep last night” said Behnken during an event upon arrival at the ISS. “We were surprised, I think, in how well we actually slept aboard the vehicle — a little bit quieter than the Space Shuttle, a little bit more environmentally controlled.” The Crew Dragon also sports a toilet in case they needed to use the facilities during the trip (though the crew did not say if they used it).
The time the docking took place was about 10:29AM ET. The hatch of the Crew Dragon was opened while the other three astronauts on-board the ISS took them into the space station from the capsule. The reason for the trip is based off scientific projects and their stay on the ISS could take about six to 16 weeks before they come back to earth. Meanwhile, NASA has more say about when to bring the Astronauts back home and FYI, they will be boarding the Crew Dragon once again which will be bound to Earth by that time.
The Earth atmosphere is super hot as it protects the planet from the sun’s radiation and other celestial anomalies. The Crew Dragon on the other end is well equipped with heat shield which protects astronauts from this aggressive heat while they make their trip back home. The space capsule also has four massive capsule which will bring them safely to the Atlantic Ocean where they will be retrieved by SpaceX ship.
For now, SpaceX and the Crew Dragon get a slight reprieve as the first half of this crucial test mission is complete. The crews will perform checks of the Crew Dragon while it’s docked at the ISS, but it will mostly remain inert, like a parked car in a lot. When the time comes for Behnken and Hurley to return home, all eyes will be on the Crew Dragon’s performance once again.