November 16th, a comprehensive report, on the 15th local time, 3 astronauts from NASA and 1 Japanese astronaut took off to the International Space Station using a rocket developed by SpaceX. .
At 7:27 p.m. Eastern time on the 15th, three NASA astronauts and one Japanese astronaut plan to take off to the International Space Station using a rocket developed by SpaceX. Source: NASA official Twitter screenshot.
According to reports, SpaceX’s newly-designed Crew Dragon spacecraft departed from NASA in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 7:27 pm Eastern time on the 15th (8:27 am Beijing time on the 16th). The Kennedy Space Center launched with SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
American astronauts Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi are expected to be in orbit within 12 minutes. This is the second manned flight of the “Dragon” spacecraft.
On August 2, local time, the Space Exploration Technology Company “Dragon” spacecraft was about to splash and land in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida in the southeastern United States to complete the first manned test flight.
The launch was originally scheduled to take place on the 14th, but NASA officials said that the launch was delayed by one day due to the forecast of remnant winds from tropical storm ETA.
NASA said the flight was the first “operational” mission for the rocket and spacecraft system. It represents a new era of commercially developed spacecraft, which is owned and operated by a private entity, not NASA, and is used to put American astronauts into orbit.
“This is the result of many years of hard work and a lot of time.” Benjay Reid, senior director of SpaceX’s human space program, said on the 14th local time. “We have built one of the safest launch vehicles and spacecraft in history. .”
After the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA conducted the first astronaut space mission launched from the soil of the United States in 9 years in September 2020. The “Dragon” spacecraft carried only two astronauts and conducted a test flight.
NASA signed a contract with SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to jointly develop a competitive space capsule designed to replace its space shuttle program and free the United States from dependence on Russian rockets.
China News Service, November 16th Florida, USA, accompanied by a huge roar, four astronauts carried by the US Space Exploration Technology Company (SpaceX ) The manned “Dragon” spacecraft developed and launched from the Kennedy Space Center.
This is the second manned launch of the “Dragon” spacecraft. It is also the first commercial manned space mission performed by this type of spacecraft after it has been certified by NASA. It means that the “space shuttle” for American astronauts is expected to go. On track. The American commercial space era is about to begin.
[Set sail: How many steps are there in space roaming? 】
Compared with the manned test flight that made history in May, this mission means that the US manned space launch is moving towards “routine”. This space journey can be roughly divided into four steps.
Launch-At 19:27 EST on November 15, at the Kennedy Space Center, the “Dragon” spacecraft was launched on the “Falcon 9” rocket developed by SpaceX.
Separation-About 3 minutes after lift-off, the “Dragon” spacecraft completed the first stage rocket separation, and the recoverable rocket landed on the recovery vessel in the Atlantic Ocean; about 12 minutes later, the spacecraft separated from the second stage rocket and entered the predetermined orbit.
Docking-At around 23:00 on the 16th, Eastern Time, the spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station. The four astronauts on the spacecraft will become members of the “Expedition 64” scientific research and experiment task force, starting a six-month space exploration journey.
Return journey-It is expected that in May 2021, the “Dragon” spacecraft will take astronauts to leave the International Space Station and return to Earth in the form of “Umbrella Splashdown”.
[Revelation: New highlights of manned “Dragon” spacecraft]
The manned “Dragon” spacecraft is an evolved version of the cargo “Dragon” spacecraft that previously carried cargo on outer space orbits. What are the new changes?
Highlight 1: New escape system
According to reports, the biggest feature of the manned “Dragon” spacecraft is the use of a pioneering new launch and escape system. In order to ensure the safety of the astronauts, the designer has equipped the spacecraft with eight “Super Draco” engines. If the spacecraft encounters danger during launch, the eight engines will immediately start to push the spacecraft away from the “Falcon 9” rocket and send it to a safe area for landing.
Highlight 2: Large payload
The manned “Dragon” spacecraft is 8.1 meters high and about 4 meters in diameter. It has an uplink payload of 6000 kg and a downlink payload of 3000 kg. It can accommodate up to 7 astronauts at the same time. The payload is much higher than traditional spacecraft.
Highlight 3: Reusable, low cost
According to the design index, a manned “Dragon” spacecraft can be reused about 10 times and can perform low-cost, operational low-Earth orbit manned space missions. In addition to sending astronauts to the space station, the modified “Dragon” spacecraft can also perform moon landing missions and has a wide range of uses.
Highlight Four: The internal design is “high and big”
Compared with the cargo version of the “Dragon” spacecraft, the manned version of the “Dragon” spacecraft has added seats, windows, touch screen consoles, environmental controls, and life support systems, making it more convenient for astronauts to operate. In addition, the overall design style of the spacecraft is minimalist and aesthetic, “a bit like a science fiction blockbuster.”
Highlight 5: Developed by a private company
According to reports, the manned “Dragon” spacecraft is the ninth manned spacecraft in the world and the fifth manned spacecraft in the United States. It is also the world’s first manned spacecraft independently developed by a private company. Its success not only means that SpaceX has been far ahead in the competition with companies such as Boeing and Virgin, but also means that global manned space activities are entering the era of commercialization.
Schematic diagram of the “Dragon” spacecraft structure.
Highlight 6: Help the United States to “Go to Heaven” on its own
The success of the “Dragon” spacecraft also gave NASA a sigh of relief. After the US-developed space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA had to rely on the Russian Soyuz for manned space activities. Over the years, in order to use seats on the “Soyuz”, NASA has paid Russia a total of up to 4 billion US dollars in “rent”.
When certifying the safety of the “Dragon” spacecraft, NASA Director Bridenstine said: “We are using American rockets and spacecraft to return to the United States for regular manned space launch activities.”
[Review: a trial flight with twists and turns]
According to the official website of NASA and SpaceX, considering the series of challenges people will face in 2020, the astronauts named the “Dragon” spacecraft on this mission “Resilience”, which means that it performs well or performs well under pressure. Able to overcome adversity.
This is a necessary quality for aerospace workers. You know, humans’ exploration of the universe has never been smooth sailing. The “Dragon” spacecraft has also experienced a long and tortuous process from the beginning of research and development to the successful test flight.
In 2014, NASA commissioned Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies to build the “Interplanetary Airliner” and the manned version of the “Dragon” spacecraft, respectively. However, the first flight time of the two spacecraft was delayed several times from the original plan in 2017. It was not until March 2019 that SpaceX completed the first unmanned test flight of the “Dragon” spacecraft.
According to the plan, SpaceX was supposed to send American astronauts to the International Space Station in July of that year. However, on April 20, 2019, the “Dragon” spacecraft exploded during a routine static pilot fire, and the space capsule was almost completely destroyed. The manned space program was postponed again.
On the afternoon of May 27, 2020, just 10 minutes before the scheduled launch time for the first manned test flight, the launch of the “Dragon” spacecraft was cancelled due to weather conditions, and it finally took off smoothly on May 30, local time.
Astronauts performing this manned space mission took a group photo in front of the “Dragon” spacecraft “Resilience”. From left to right: NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Noguchi. Image source: SpaceX official website
[Future: Space passengers, from astronauts to ordinary people? 】
In this mission, 4 astronauts will be sent to the International Space Station, including NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Noguchi Satoshi.
As the commander of this mission, Hopkins has spent 166 days in space and completed many space walks. And Glover is the pilot and deputy commander of the mission. Walker is a female astronaut who has worked in space for nearly 4,000 hours. Japanese astronaut Satoshi Noguchi also has rich experience. This is the third time he has taken a spacecraft into space.
It is worth mentioning that during this mission, the astronauts’ clothing was also very “cool”—the spacesuit was a set of compact lines, the helmet was also 3D printed, and the gloves had a touch screen function. The BBC said all this is due to the famous Hollywood fashion designer Fernandez. He has participated in the design of “Batman”, “X-Men” and “Thor” series of movies.
Data map: Four astronauts dressed in space suits took a group photo in the “Dragon” spacecraft.
Although most of the current astronauts going to space are strictly trained and experienced astronauts, with the continuous development of space technology, the “space dream” of ordinary people is no longer far away.
Scholar Joe Paparado said that NASA is only the first customer of the manned “Dragon” spacecraft. In the future, SpaceX will be able to sell tickets to almost anyone who wants to go to space. According to reports, Japanese billionaire Maesawa Yusaku will be the first SpaceX tourist to orbit the moon.
Coincidentally, at the end of July this year, Virgin Galactic also disclosed the cabin design of its commercial spacecraft SpaceShipTwo. It is estimated that after the spacecraft is put into service, it can carry 6 trained passengers into space each time, the voyage is about 90 minutes, and the flight price is about US$250,000. It is reported that about 700 people have booked the space trip, and many of them have paid the full deposit.