Austin, Texas (CNN Business) – Four astronauts from three countries prepare to leave Earth this week aboard the Crew Dragon capsule from SpaceX. It is the third manned flight in Elon Musk’s history, and the first from SpaceX to use a rocket booster and spacecraft that has already been launched.
SpaceX launch details
SpaceX’s launch on Friday will use the same booster rocket that supported the 2020 Demo-2 mission, as well as the same spacecraft, dubbed “My pursuit”. SpaceX has long been betting on reuse as a cornerstone of its business plan, hoping that hardware recovery and refurbishment will lower the cost of spaceflight. Although the company has reused propulsion devices and spacecraft dozens of times in satellite and cargo launches in recent years, it will be the first time it has reused the devices on a manned mission.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbro e Megan MacArthur They will join the French astronaut Thomas PesquetThe European Space Agency, really Akihiko Hoshide, from Japan. They will spend six months on board the International Space Station after the Crew Dragon capsule docks on Saturday morning.
The flight is set to begin at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, where they will ascend to the capsule aboard one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, which have a height of 60 meters. If there are no storms, the missile will launch at 5:49 AM ET.
The Astronaut Dragon crew will separate from the rocket shortly after it reaches Earth orbit, traveling at a speed of over 27,000 kilometers per hour. The crew will spend nearly an entire day aboard the spacecraft as it slowly moves toward the International Space Station, which is 21 years old and orbits 400 km above Earth.
The Crew Dragon is expected to dock with the International Space Station around 5:10 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Kimbro, McArthur, Pesquet and Heshid will join the seven astronauts already on board the station. Four of them arrived in another SpaceX capsule Crew Dragon in November. The space station will hold 11 people, and it is one of the largest crews the International Space Station has ever hosted. But that number will quickly drop to seven when four more astronauts return home on April 28.
NASA and SpaceX work
NASA has been increasing the number of personnel aboard the 21-year-old space station for more than a decade, after the recall of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 left the Russian Soyuz spacecraft the only option to carry and bring astronauts to the International Space Station. The United States was paying Russia up to $ 90 million per seat for these flights.
For years, SpaceX has worked on a fixed-price, $ 2.6 billion contract to develop its Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which for the first time in space agency history has given the mission to the private sector to build and test a spacecraft. Crew-friendly spaceship. SpaceX made history last May with the first manned launch of the Crew Dragon on a mission called Demo-2, which brought NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station for four months. The second manned SpaceX mission took off in November.
(Boeing is working on a similar contract to develop its own capsule for the program, called the Starliner, although it is still in the testing phase.)
One of the main objectives of the astronaut mission is to studyTissue chips“, That is,” small models of human organs that contain multiple types of cells that behave the same way they do in the body. NASA hopes to help drive drug and vaccine development, according to the space agency. This work will build on years of studying biological and other scientific phenomena aboard the International Space Station, where the microgravity environment can give scientists a better understanding of how things work.
Who will be the astronauts traveling on the SpaceX mission?
MacArthur is a veteran of the space shuttle and married to Behnken, who co-led the historic SpaceX Demo-2 mission last May. MacArthur told reporters over the weekend that he had gained “years of experience” with the Crew Dragon vehicle as Behnken worked alongside SpaceX during the Crew Dragon development process.
“I really learned from him many years along the way,” said MacArthur, who will lead the Crew-2 mission and hold a Ph.D. in oceanography.
He will join MacArthur Kempra of NASA, a retired Army colonel and former expert on two previous missions to the International Space Station. His crewmates, Hoshide of Japan and Biscuit from France, have experience in spaceflight.
Pesquet said he appreciated the opportunity to fly aboard the refurbished booster missile that helps lift the capsule into a vacuum. The devices, still covered in soot from his previous trips, allowed him and his fellow crew members to “draw our initials” on the side of the car.
“I don’t know if [la escritura] It will last, but I thought it was really cool, ”he said.