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Crew Dragon will deliver to the ISS astronauts. This is a historic event. It's time to talk about how SpaceX's Elon musk wins the space race
Material posted: Publication date: 27-05-2020
27 may, if all goes according to plan, American astronauts for the first time after a nearly nine-year hiatus will travel to the International space station on the Russian Soyuz and the American ship — Crew Dragon company SpaceX. Ships of this series have already passed several tests, one of them even went to the space station as a truck. But never from space vehicles of the company Elon musk was not influenced directly the lives of people — all perfect so far, the SpaceX flight was unmanned. The current mission, designated SpaceX Demo 2 should be the last test before starting normal operation Crew Dragon, which will take the symbolic baton from the space Shuttle "Atlantis". What "Atlantis" was the last manned us spacecraft launched to the ISS on 8 July 2011, and with the same pad LC-39A, on which now stands the new ship.

The start of the mission SpaceX Demo 2, the event and without the extraordinary, is unique in one respect — for the first time in the history of manned flight into space will take place without a huge number of viewers at the Space center of a name of John Kennedy in Florida. The reason for that, of course, the ongoing epidemic of coronavirus infection. For liftoff of the Falcon 9 Block 5 with a crew of two astronauts from the pad at Cape Canaveral will observe only some journalists and cameramen (and possibly the US President Donald trump). The launch is scheduled for 23:33 Moscow time on may 27 ("Medusa" will conduct an online this event). The first stage of the rocket after the main tasks will have to sit on a barge "Of Course I Still Love You" ("of Course, I still love you") in the Atlantic ocean.

The crew of the first manned spacecraft Crew Dragon consists of two experienced NASA astronauts, who had two space flights. Former Shuttle pilot Douglas Hurley appointed commander of the ship, and the flight specialist Robert Behnken, the commander of the joint operations with the ISS. These crew roles are unique, they are allocated only in case of test flights. Usually in vehicles with the scheme of the flight, as the Crew Dragon, the crew consists of the commander and flight engineers.

Hurley will be responsible for the phase of Autonomous flight Crew Dragon, and the Behnken — control of automatic docking and undocking from the ISS. Together they should assess the readiness of the ship to deliver humans to orbit. In addition, they will test in real conditions the convenience and functionality of a new rescue spacesuits developed by SpaceX.


NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken dress rehearsal for launch at the Space centre Kennedy in Florida. 23 may 2020

May 13 astronauts were sent on a two-week pre-flight quarantine. As a precaution, they tested for the virus SARS-CoV-2 — NASA fear, as if not to bring it to the International space station. May 27 from the quarantine zone in the Space center of a name of John Kennedy they will be delivered to the launch pad white Tesla Model X, which depicts the emblem of NASA. For the first stage of the rocket Falcon 9 Block 5 is also, of course, caused the emblem of the Agency — notably, not modern, and the one that was used in the period from 1975 to 1992.

Flight Crew Dragon to the space station will last about a day. The crew will monitor the operation of the ship and will only be able to get some sleep. May 28, Crew Dragon in automatic mode is to approach to the docking adapter on the Harmony node module ("Harmony") of the American segment of the ISS. Anyone can now see this process in browser simulator dock on the SpaceX website.

The test will be not only a new ship but new (for Americans) an automatic docking system

On the space station, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken will join the ISS expedition-63 consisting of commander Christopher Cassidy (USA) and flight engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner (Russia). Docking should take place in automatic mode. That in itself is not particularly remarkable: a manned Soyuz and cargo Progress spacecraft (as well as the European ATV cargo ships that made five flights into space) was initially docked to the station automatically. However, the predecessor of the new ship SpaceX cargo Dragon, as its competitor Cygnus, attaches in manual mode using canadian manipulator Canadarm2 that is installed on the ISS.

The ability to automatically dock a manned mission is very important. It allows you to get to the station in the case that the previous crew left her because of an accident or critical health status of the astronauts (in other words, in the case when to control the manipulator to no one). Manual control of the spacecraft Crew Dragon, and the "Union", is also provided. Robert Behnken will test manual docking with the station during a test flight.

The crew of the new ship will be engaged in maintenance of the ISS. How long will the mission is unknown

On the space station, the crew of the ship Crew Dragon will carry from 30 to 119 days. The final decision about the duration of the mission, NASA will take only after docking. Making sure she passed the posts and comments on the tightness no, the experts will assess the condition of onboard systems of the ship.

Son of Douglas Hurley looks at the launching pad from which the space will go to his father. Photos from instagram of the wife Hurley, astronaut Karen Nyberg

Career Hurley and Behnken still only been a short flight in the Shuttle program of the Assembly of the ISS, but they have been trained to work at station for research, program and maintenance. Both astronauts were in Star city, where he got acquainted with the Russian segment of the station. In the mission Robert Behnken, with extensive experience of the EVAs, along with Christopher Cassidy will replace outside the station the old Nickel-hydrogen batteries to the new lithium ion.

After completing work on the ISS and taking a return cargo, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken will return to Earth, provodnitsas via parachute in the Atlantic ocean, near Florida, where they will select a rescue ship Go Navigator.

The return Crew Dragon spacecraft — reusable, but under a contract with NASA to deliver people to the station they will use only once. While SpaceX is allowed to use the same capsule again for cargo missions to the ISS.

In case of failure of the test flight of the spacecraft Crew Dragon, NASA has signed with Roskosmos contract for flight of the American astronauts on the Russian spacecraft "Soyuz MS-17" in October 2020. For this mission the Agency will pay more than $ 90 million. Also within two and a half years, NASA will additionally deliver to the International space station 800 kilograms of Russian goods.

First manned flight — a clear victory for SpaceX. The company is Elon musk ahead of Boeing in the space race

The famous list of "let's talk" concerning the achievements of SpaceX, will soon have to re-edit. Manned space flight — a fantastic result for a private company.

The beginning of the success of SpaceX was launched in 2010 when President Barack Obama turned the program to return Americans to the moon "Constellation" initiated by his predecessor George Bush in 2004. To replace the shuttles, recognized is not sufficiently reliable and too expensive to maintain, it was decided to begin the creation of a commercial manned spacecraft, using the experience of the "Commercial orbital transportation services" for the delivery of cargo to the ISS. This process was supervised by Lori Garver, Deputy NASA head Charles Bolden.

In 2011 was completed the Assembly of the U.S. segment of the ISS and the space shuttles discovery, Atlantis and endeavour went to the museums. Thus began the longest break in the independent Americans flying into space. The delivery of crews to ISS put on "the Unions" that allowed the "Roscosmos" to earn good money on contracts with NASA is an American Agency paid for the flights of its astronauts and the astronauts from Canada, Europe and Japan, places that were allocated under the quota depending on contribution to the ISS program.

Generally speaking, in the U.S. space program (as in the Soviet or Chinese) have already been breaks between manned flights. Among them are relatively small — two years between "Gemini-12" (1966) and "Apollo-7" (1968), and is quite durable. From the launch of "Apollo" in 1975 to flight of the space Shuttle Columbia April 12 1981 it's been six years. The current break was a record a replacement of the shuttles took about 10 years.

The first round of concept development of a new manned spacecraft began in 2010, NASA has allocated for the program is $ 50 million. The money was shared by the company Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and United Launch Alliance. By the way, about the same time, work began on the Russian manned spacecraft of new generation "eagle".

The second stage was increased to $ 270 million funding was launched in 2011. The money allocated to NASA, got four companies: Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX. For the next year have been selected only three: Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX. They committed a total of $ 30 million.

In 2014 it was announced the two winners with which we have concluded contracts to build transport systems (rockets, manned spacecraft and infrastructure) for the delivery of astronauts to the ISS. SpaceX has received from NASA $ 2.6 billion, and Boeing — $ 4.2 billion.

In the early stages of the design Crew Dragon was quite different from the ship that is now on the launch pad. For example, the concept of the mortgaged land without a parachute when braking only provide engines. However, the reliability requirements put forward by NASA have cut many of these innovations and led the design of the ship to more or less classical scheme.

In March of 2019 the first flight of the Crew Dragon to ISS (SpaceX test mission Demo-1). The ship delivered supplies to the station and brought the desired cargo to the Ground. Instead of the astronauts on Board was a mannequin Ellen Ripley in a spacesuit, named in honor of the heroine of sci-Fi Ridley Scott's "Alien" (celebrated in the year of the 40th anniversary of the release).

From this point on, almost all were confident that SpaceX is undoubted favorite comic race with Boeing. But the situation changed just over a month: 21 April 2019 in the case of ground engine test of the Crew Dragon capsule just before scoring the test system of emergency rescue, the explosion occurred. Boeing started to catch up with his project of a spaceship Cockpit. 4 November there was a successful test of its emergency rescue system, and on 20 December launched a test mission Boeing Orbital Flight Test — Cockpit first flight to the ISS, the carrier rocket Atlas V with the Russian RD-180 engines. As its mission the SpaceX Demo-1, astronauts on Board were replaced by a dummy: it was a dummy klepalschitsy Rosie, dressed in a spacesuit production of Boeing.

Unfortunately, Rosie was not destined to arrive on the ISS. In the calculation of the flight time of the vehicle the failure occurred, which resulted in excessive fuel consumption. Docking with the ISS was cancelled, the ship was tested in free flight to a lower orbit and on December 22 he made a successful landing using parachutes and air bags on the range white Sands in new Mexico. Subsequently, in the analysis of the flight results identified a large number of software errors. NASA decided that the Cockpit unmanned launch to the ISS on a mandatory basis should repeat at the expense of the developer. Boeing immediately went to the underdogs with SpaceX. This and other failures led to the resignation of the chief Executive officer of the Corporation, Dennis Muilenburg.

At the same time, SpaceX is rapidly advanced to the first manned flight. January 19, 2020, the company conducted a test of the emergency rescue crew Crew Dragon with a flying missile, and on may 1, successfully tested a system of parachutes. Thus, all formal requirements for the execution of the last certification test flight to the ISS with the astronauts-test — have been met.

In conjunction with the design Crew Dragon began work on a new Russian ship. His first start always carry

For comparison with the results of the American program for commercial delivery of astronauts on the ISS can lead the Russian program of creation of the quadruple manned spacecraft of new generation "eagle" (formerly the "Federation").

Piloted transport ship (PTK), a new generation
Roscosmos Media

Work on a new Russian ship began in 2009. It was planned to send the first Autonomous test flight in low earth orbit modifications in 2017 on a new launch vehicle "Angara-А5П" from the cosmodrome East. But delays at the same time in the creation of the ship, missiles and launch pad has delayed the first launch of the first in 2021, and then in 2022 — and not from the East, and Baikonur, and using the new Russian rocket "Soyuz-5" and not with "Angara". Moreover, subsequently, the launch was again postponed. According to the latest plans, the "eagle" is supposed to start in 2023 — still from the Vostochny cosmodrome rocket "Angara-А5П".

Alexander Khokhlov


Tags: innovation , USA , space

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