Home / Science / NASA and SpaceX launch the first commercial crew rotation mission on the International Space Station

NASA and SpaceX launch the first commercial crew rotation mission on the International Space Station


Published on 4 October 2020 |
by Guest Contributor

4 October 2020 of Guest contributor

Originally published on NASA

The official portrait of the SpaceX Crew-1 crew featuring (from left) NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Credits: NASA

NASA and SpaceX are beginning a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 is the first crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying a commercial spacecraft and the first to include an international partner.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launched on the space station with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. The crew-1 astronauts have called the Resilience spacecraft, emphasizing the dedication the teams involved in the mission have shown and to demonstrate that when we work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve. They named it in honor of their families, colleagues and fellow citizens.

The launch is scheduled for Saturday, October 31 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A in Florida. The crew is scheduled for a long stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, conducting science and maintenance. The four astronauts will return in the spring of 2021.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight completed earlier this year was the Crew Dragon’s final demonstration flight. The test flight, along with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, is helping to validate SpaceX’s crew transportation system, including launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. NASA is working to complete certification of the Crew Dragon system prior to the Crew-1 mission.

Hopkins and Glover were assigned to the Crew-1 mission in 2018 and began working and training on SpaceX’s next-generation human spacecraft. Walker and Noguchi joined the crew earlier this year.

Michael Hopkins is the commander of the Crew Dragon and Crew-1 mission. Hopkins is responsible for all phases of the flight, from launch to return. He will also serve as Expedition 64 flight engineer aboard the station. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009, Hopkins spent 166 days in space as a long-time crew member of Expeditions 37 and 38 and completed two spacewalks totaling 12 hours and 58 minutes. Born in Lebanon, Missouri, Hopkins grew up on a farm outside Richland, Missouri. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Stanford University. Prior to joining NASA, Hopkins was a flight test engineer with the US Air Force.

SpaceX Crew-1 crew members (from left) NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Credits: SpaceX

Victor Glover is the Crew Dragon pilot and second in command of the mission. Glover is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. He will also be a long-time crew member of the space station. Selected as an astronaut in 2013, this will be his first space flight. The California native holds a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering, a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering, a Master of Science in Systems Engineering, and a Master of Arts and Military Operational Science. Glover is a naval aviator and was a test pilot on the F / A – 18 Hornet, Super Hornet and EA – 18G Growler aircraft.

Shannon Walker is a mission specialist for Crew-1. As a mission specialist, he will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the vehicle during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of the flight. He will also be responsible for monitoring deadlines, telemetry and consumables, such as fuel and atmosphere levels. Once aboard the station, Walker will become a flight engineer for Expedition 64. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004, Walker was launched on the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft as a co-pilot and spent 161 days aboard the orbiting laboratory. More than 130 microgravity experiments were conducted during his stay in areas such as human research, biology and materials science. Originally from Houston, Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rice University in 1987, as well as a master’s degree in science and a doctorate in space physics, both from Rice University, in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Soichi Noguchi will also be a mission specialist for Crew-1, working with the commander and pilot to monitor the vehicle during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of the flight, and checking timing, telemetry and consumables. Noguchi will also become a long-term crew member aboard the space station. He was selected as an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) in May 1996. Noguchi is a veteran of two space flights. During the STS-114 space shuttle mission in 2005, Noguchi became the first Japanese astronaut to take a spacewalk outside the space station. He did a total of three spacewalks during the mission, accumulating 20 hours and 5 minutes of spacewalking. He launched himself aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in 2009 to return to the station as a long-term crew member. The Crew Dragon will be the third spaceship that Noguchi has brought to the orbiting laboratory.

Taking off from launch pad 39A on a Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate its four passengers to approximately 17,000 mph and put it on an interception course with the International Space Station. Once in orbit, the crew and control of the SpaceX mission will monitor a series of automatic maneuvers that will guide the crew-1 astronauts to their new home in orbit. After about a day in orbit, Crew Dragon will be able to meet and dock with the space station. The spacecraft is designed to dock autonomously with the ability for astronauts on board to take control and manually pilot if needed.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured docked at the International Space Station on July 1, 2020

After successfully docking, the astronauts of crew-1 will be greeted on board from the station by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. For the first time, the space station crew will expand to seven people with Expedition 64, increasing the amount of crew time available for research.

The Crew Dragon used for this flight will remain docked at the station for the duration of a long-duration expedition from the space station, lasting approximately six months. Crew-1 astronauts will spend their time aboard the International Space Station conducting new and exciting scientific research in areas such as botany, cancer and technology.

Radishes will grow in space. This model plant is nutritious, fast growing and is genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a plant frequently studied in microgravity conditions. The findings could help optimize plant growth in space and provide an assessment of their nutrition and taste. Scientists are exploiting microgravity to test messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) drugs for the treatment of leukemia. A new space station-bound toilet has a number of features that improve current space bath operations and help us prepare for future missions, including those to the Moon and Mars.

During their time in the orbiting laboratory, the Crew-1 astronauts will see a range of unmanned spacecraft including the Northrop Grumman Cygnus, the next generation SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft and the Boeing CST-100 Starliner during its test of unmanned flight to the station. They will also conduct a series of spacewalks and welcome the crews of the Russian Soyuz vehicle and the upcoming SpaceX Crew Dragon in 2021.

At the end of the mission, Crew Dragon releases autonomously with the four astronauts on board, will leave the space station and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. After disembarking off the coast of Florida, the crew will be picked up at sea by a SpaceX recovery ship and taken ashore to board a plane back to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The Crew-1 mission is an important step for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The long-lasting commercial crew rotation operational missions will allow NASA to continue the important research and technological investigations that take place aboard the station. Such research benefits people on Earth and sets the stage for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency’s Artemis program, which will bring the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024.

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Tag: Astronauts, NASA, Space, SpaceX, US Air Force

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