At 1:22 a.m. Beijing time on June 1, two NASA astronauts aboard the U.S. SpaceX manned Dragon spacecraft finally entered the International Space Station and met formally with the astronauts waiting there, marking another milestone in SpaceX’s first manned mission. At this point, nearly a whole day has passed since the launch of the manned Dragon spacecraft, what happened during this period?
The New York Times recorded the story of the day. At 3:22 a.m. Beijing time on May 31, the manned Dragon spacecraft successfully launched from the 39A launch pad of the Kennedy Space Center in the United States, entering Earth orbit at an altitude of 201 kilometers.
The two astronauts were Douglas Hurley, born in 1966. Hurley) and Robert L. B. Benken, born in 1970. Behnken), they are all veterans of three trips into space.
After the successful launch, the manned Dragon spacecraft orbited the Earth and flew for about 19 hours. Benken and Hurley decided to name the manned Dragon spacecraft Endeavour because they had both flown a decommissioned space shuttle called Endeavour, the same name as the sailboat commanded by British navigator James Cook as he explored the Pacific Ocean.
Benken’s flip-flop in the capsule.Source:NASA
Two astronauts play with dinosaurs.
Then, after sleeping for almost seven hours, they found it a great experience to rest on a manned Dragon. “We did sleep well, quieter than the shuttle, ” says Benken.
At about 4:45 p.m. Beijing time on May 31, they were woken up by the black Sabbath song “Star Caravan” and ready to perform a docking mission. The spacecraft launched its booster into orbit at the orbit of the International Space Station, which orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 402 kilometers to Earth at a speed of more than 27,000 kilometers per hour.
When the spacecraft flies into a straight line with the station’s interface, it automatically approaches the station at a relative rate of several centimeters per second. One of the biggest features of the SpaceX capsule is the fully automated docking system. The spacecraft can automatically approach the International Space Station and lock in a standardized docking port, freeing up more time to do other things without the need for astronaut intervention.
The final docking took place at about 10:29 p.m. Beijing time on the 31st. At about 219 meters from the space station, the two astronauts turned on manual control and control of the spacecraft, which was also one of the most important objectives of the test flight.
The ship makes the final docking.
Manual driving requires interaction with the interior touch-screen display of the manned Dragon spacecraft, while SpaceX’s pressurized spacesuit gloves are compatible with the touch screen. They have successfully proved that they can indeed fly a spacecraft with gloves.
Two astronauts switch manual driving
Manual driving system for astronaut’s perspective
The whole process went very smoothly, 15 minutes faster than scheduled. However, In order to wait for the air pressure of the capsule and the space station to be balanced and to confirm the sealing at the seams, Hurley and Bainken conducted nearly three hours of testing. It was not until about 0:45 BST on June 1 st. Another 30 minutes later, they were dressed casually and hugged three astronauts in NASA uniforms on the International Space Station.
Hurley and Benken make way for the space station.
Five astronauts pictured together
Once the two men successfully enter the space station, they will remain there to perform a series of scientific tasks for environmental control systems, display control systems, thruster operating systems, etc. Officials have not disclosed the date of their return, saying only that it will not be later than September 23.
When the manned Dragon spacecraft returns, it will first lose its service cabin, then slow down with the help of a shield-shaped heat shield, reach a certain altitude, then unfold the parachute to complete the final brake, and finally splash in the Atlantic Ocean. But there is a worrying problem that if it stays too long, the spacecraft’s solar panels will age and may not generate enough power to support the spacecraft’s safe return to Earth.
If the second half of the space trip is successful, NASA will use data to prove that the manned Dragon spacecraft is enough to be a daily docking role with the International Space Station. Their next mission, then, is to send three astronauts from NASA and one from Japan’s space agency to the International Space Station.