Four astronauts arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, local time, to take part in space exploration technology company SpaceX’s second manned launch this weekend, its first commercial manned launch.
For NASA, this marks the beginning of a regular rotation of astronauts stationed on the International Space Station and is shuttled by a private company. “When it comes to space travel, every flight is a test flight, but we do need to be able to travel to the International Space Station very often,” NASA’s Jim Bridenstine said as he welcomed astronauts to the launch site. “
Three NASA astronauts, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins, and a Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, plan to fly aboard SpaceX’s Manned Dragon spacecraft on November 14, local time, provided the approaching tropical storm does not interfere with the launch.
The four astronauts have been quarantined for two weeks because of the new crown outbreak, and security measures have been in place for a long time, including wearing masks and keeping a safe social distance. They will stay in orbit until next spring, when their replacement will board another manned dragon ship. At the same time, the cargo version of the Dragon spacecraft will continue to carry food and supplies on a regular basis.
Benji Reed, SpaceX’s manned mission leader, said the company expects to launch seven Dragon spacecraft over the next 14 months, including three manned and four cargo ships. “The launch of these ships means that two ships will be kept in space at any time, ” he said. “
Boeing, meanwhile, is not expected to carry astronauts on its first manned flight until next summer. The company plans to conduct its second unmanned test flight in a few months, the first of which has encountered software problems that have compelled its Starliner spacecraft to fail to connect with the International Space Station.
Since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011, NASA has sought to use private companies to deliver cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. U.S. astronauts have been flying into space aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, but the cost is getting higher and higher, with the recent purchase of seats costing $90 million.
In May, SpaceX finally ended NASA’s nearly decade-long astronaut “launch drought” and successfully launched two test pilots from the U.S. mainland to the International Space Station for two months. After the manned spacecraft’s return splash, SpaceX scrutined it, prompting it to make improvements to its second manned launch.
Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president, said engineers had found that the scorching temperatures during re-entry had caused excessive erosion of the spacecraft’s heat shield and that the company had reinforced the vulnerable parts.
Second, the parachute opened a little too low on the first manned flight, and now the parachute’s altitude measurement system has been improved. SpaceX also recently replaced two engines on its Falcon 9 rocket, delaying the launch by two weeks.
Commanding Director Hopkins and his colleagues will take a Tesla car to the launch pad, where the colors of the spacesuits will be reflected in the spacecraft. But behind all the good looks, says NASA astronaut Glover, there are “many amazing abilities” hidden behind them.
“The Manned Dragon is very stylish,” Walker said in a recent interview. But the biggest advantage over previous U.S. spacecraft is a big leap in technology. “
Nogugu tsang is particularly interested in a manned dragon ship. “In Japan, dragons are very respected mythological creatures that can go straight for almost nine days, and it’s a great honor for me to learn how to steer this ship, ” he said. ” (Small)