After hours of waiting, the two astronauts on the new Crew Dragon has finally joined the International Space Station.
A day after launching from Launch Complex 39, Florida, USA, the new Crew Dragon spaceship on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had finally approach the International Space Station as of night, May 31, 2020 in Vietnam’s time. Photo: NASA.
On the ship are the two astronauts – Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Both has years of experiences with their previous missions on the ISS, and is going to stay here for a month. Photo: SpaceX.
The new spacesuit made by SpaceX. At the point of contact, the ship had to be stopped so that the on-ground commander can check all operations before connecting to the ISS. When distance between the two reaches 220 meters, the astronaut will try manual control for connection. This may be a mission from NASA to ensure that should automatic control is out of commission, manual control can stilled be done by the astronauts.
After this manual trial, the computers will do the rest of the tasks. Finally, the two astronauts will have to wait for a few hours for tests to confirm that the spaceship and the ISS had been tightly joined.
This Crew Dragon had been pre-programmed with a calculated itinerary and flying speed, so that it can approach ISS just as this station cross the Earth. Here is a photo of ISS from 150m, snapped from Crew Dragon. Photo: NASA.
The control interface for the two astronauts. They will have a short period of manual control when the distance reach around 200 meters. This is a required procedure to ensure that the astronauts can take up control should there be errors in the computer. As the distance shortens, the computer will reboot automatic control for joining. Photo: NASA.
The Crew Dragon will approach the station with a speed of over 27,000 kilometers per hour, with Earth as the focal point. After joining, the computer will run multiple tests to ensure the completion of the joint. Photo: NASA.
According to the New York Times, the crew had reached ISS 15 minutes earlier than planned. The testing procedure had lasted for hours to ensure the astronaut’s safety as they entered the ISS. Photo: NASA.
After successfully joining with the station, astronaut Hurley had sent his congratulations to the staff of SpaceX and NASA. He also said that it is his honor to help America continue this work after 9 years.
Yet, this is only half of the journey. The mission will only be regarded as completed when the astronauts return to Earth safely after finishing their roles on the International Space Station.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley being welcomed by 3 astronauts at the ISS. In a video of NASA, astronaut Behnken had shared that, compared to the previous spaceship, this Crew Dragon is much quieter, and they could even take a nap after being launched. They also named the ship “the Endeavour”, after the ship that captain James Cook had used to explored the Pacific in the 18th century. Photo: NASA.
The three astronauts on ISS spend most of their time maneuvering the station, and thus cannot perform space experiments. With the two additional members, separate missions can finally be done, while the ISS will also be maneuvered even better. In particular, Behnken is trained to perform spacewalks, while Hurley is trained to maneuver a robot arm, created by Canada. Photo: NASA.
After ending its space program in 2011, the USA had had no choice but to pay Russia to send its astronauts to space, at around 90 million USD per person.
Therefore, the success of SpaceX with its reusable rocket, may help this country bring people to space at much cheaper costs, compared to the “traditional way”.