Fully fueled for a flight to the International Space Station later this month, SpaceX moved the Crew Dragon spaceship “Resilience” on Thursday to a hangar near base 39A at Kennedy Space Center to attach to its Falcon 9 launcher.
The commercial ship arrived at SpaceX’s hangar near the 39A’s southern circumference on Thursday. SpaceX technicians inside the building will connect the Crew Dragon to a Falcon 9 rocket before bringing the fully assembled launch pad onto the ramp to lift the 39A platform later this week.
The commercial crew is scheduled to launch on November 14 at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 GMT November 15) with four astronauts on board. The mission is known as the Crew-1, and will be the first operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft after a 64-day test flight to the space station earlier this year with astronauts. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-1 mission was named “Resilience”, a name that commander Mike Hopkins said he hopes “could be an inspiration to everyone about what is possible as we are. work together.”
“When you look at the definition of resilience, it means performing well in times of stress or overcoming adverse events, so I think we all agree that 2020 is for sure. It’s been a challenging year – a global pandemic, economic hardship, civil unrest, isolation – and in spite of all that, SpaceX (and) NASA kept the production line and completed the vehicle. This amazing vehicle, getting ready for the first flight to the International Space Station, ”said Hopkins.
“On our patch you’ll notice that on the contour, there’s a name, there’s no flag, and it’s by design because that patch doesn’t really represent the four of us, but it actually represents. for the multitudes of people who have contributed to getting vehicle ready and getting us ready for this mission, ”Hopkins said at a news conference in September.
“The same theme applies to this car’s name, Resilience, it’s not just the connection of the four of us, but we really feel it’s a connection with all of you, with all of you. Everyone, ”said Hopkins. “We hope that it brings a smile to your face. We hope that it offers something positive in your life and frankly it’s an inspiration – it shows when you work together that there’s no limit to what you do. can reach.
In an interview with Spaceflight Now, Hopkins said he hopes the Resilience name will stay with the Crew Dragon spacecraft – also known by SpaceX as the Dragon C207 – on future flights of reusable capsules. Hurley and Behnken chose the Endeavor name for the Crew Dragon spacecraft on their demonstration flight, known as Demo-2.
The Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule is being refurbished for another flight to the space station during the Crew-2 mission in the first half of 2021. The Crew-2 astronauts will replace the Crew-1 on the space station after half. year in orbit.
The Crew-2 astronauts have no intention of changing the name to Crew Dragon Endeavor, Hopkins said.
“So that (name) will stick with that vehicle, and I also predict the same thing happening to us,” said Hopkins. “Sometimes vehicles like ships get renamed when they are transferred from one owner to another, but specifically the case, it’s in the family, it stays with the company, so I will Surprised if it was renamed, but apparently everyone could decide that way. “
Dragon’s handover signal to the hangar begins the final phase of the launch campaign
The Dragon Resilience crew was transported overland from a refueling facility at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Station onto train 39A. Before moving to the launch pad, the spacecraft was filled with hydrazine and tetroxide hypergolic propellants for capsule launchers and orbital thrusters.
The ship’s Falcon 9 launcher was inside the hangar on the south circumference of the launch pad, along with a seaside complex where Apollo and the shuttle’s moon missions departed from Left. land.
After SpaceX technicians confirm the mechanical and electrical connection between the spacecraft and the missile, the entire 215-foot (65-meter) vehicle will roll off the 39A cushion and lift vertically to fire a dynamic test. Falcon 9 main muscle Merlin on Monday night.
The successful launch of another Falcon 9 missile from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday night was a pivotal milestone leading up to the Crew-1 mission. Falcon 9 has successfully deployed GPS satellite navigation for the US Space Force, confirming that engineers have clearly resolved the problem with the Merlin engine causing the GPS mission and Crew-1 flight to be delayed. they eat.
Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, mission specialist Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi are expected to arrive at Kennedy Space Center via a NASA Gulfstream jet at around 2pm EST (1900 GMT ) on Sunday afternoon.
A Flight Readiness Assessment convened by top NASA officials is also scheduled on Monday to discuss unresolved technical issues, review launch preparations and release. Official approval for teams conducting Crew-1 duties.
Hopkins and his crew members will wear the SpaceX-produced pressure suits on Wednesday to “dry suit drills” for their launch day activities. The four astronauts will travel inside two Tesla Model X cars from the crew area at Kennedy Space Center to pad 39A, where they will board the Crew Dragon Resilience.
Once rehearsal is complete, the crew members will get out of the spacecraft and return to the crew area.
SpaceX plans the Launch Readiness Assessment on Thursday, another checkpoint to officially sign the scheduled launch of Crew-1 next Saturday, November 14.
Assuming a punctual launch at 7:49 p.m. EST on November 14, Crew Dragon Resilience is expected to automatically dock with the International Space Station around 8:30 a.m. EST (0920 a.m. GMT) on November 15.
Hours after docking, Hopkins and his team will open the hatch to join Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov, flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins on the station – lifting long-term crew The lab’s added seven people for the first time.
Although Crew Dragon’s Demo-2 flight with Hurley and Behnken demonstrated that the capsule made by SpaceX could safely bring the astronauts to the space station and return to Earth safely, Hopkins said. know the mission Crew-1 will have its own first missions.
Hopkins told Spaceflight Now in a pre-flight interview: “I think one of the differences between the Demo-2 and our mission is that they are just a development and demonstration part, and we really are. biased towards activities ”. “So we’ll get the car through its operational steps.
“That means we’re figuring out how four people will live and operate on vehicles during that free period, but we’re also bringing in longer times and things of that nature. , ”Said Hopkins. “So although the first time it was a test mission, this time there was some flavor of it as well as we’ll be there for four or more months longer than Bob (Behnken) and Doug (Hurley). , so we’ll be closely monitoring how the vehicle handles the spatial environment during that time period.
“Overall, I think it’s a performance test rather than a development test,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins, 51 years old, was a colonel in the United States Air Force and was a test flight engineer before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. He completed a 166-day expedition on the space station. in 2013 and 2014 before NASA appointed him to command. Crew Dragon missions first operate in 2018.
He said Crew-1’s flight plan did not include any manual pilot tests such as those performed by Doug Hurley during the Demo-2 mission. If everything goes according to plan, Crew Dragon Resilience will link with the space station in autopilot mode.
“We have certainly been trained in the manual test drive phase, but that is if any of the incidents occur or any damage on the train could force us to take a manual test drive,” Hopkins said. .
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