Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 4:10 p.m. – The rocket, the spacecraft and the astronauts are all ready. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is ready for takeoff!
NASA and SpaceX are about to make history.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is currently perched on top of a Falcon 9 booster rocket at Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch complex 39A. There, he awaits the arrival of NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will embark and tie up Wednesday afternoon for the Demo-2 flight mission, which will transport the pair in orbit for an appointment with the Station. international space.
This Demo-2 mission will make history in two ways. First, it will be the first commercial launch to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, and second, it will be the first crewed launch from US soil since the end of the space shuttle program almost a decade ago.
“We are so proud and happy for Doug and Bob,” astronaut Nicole Mann, who is scheduled to take part in a future commercial launch on the Boeing Starliner spacecraft, said in a NASA statement. “It’s a little bit like having one of your close family members achieve great success all their life – and that’s what it really is. “
The instant launch window for this important mission should reach “T-minus zero” at 4.33 pm EDT Wednesday May 27, 2020. The public can watch this event live online via NASA TV, starting at 12:15 pm. EDT.
If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9 booster will complete the trip in orbit, carrying Behnken and Hurley aboard the Crew Dragon, in just under 9 minutes. They will then be on their way to a meeting with the International Space Station at 11:39 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 28.
By the time the pair of astronauts experience the weightlessness of being in orbit, the 1st stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will already be a few moments from settling on the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You”, on the Atlantic Ocean .
SpaceX flight profile for the Demo-2 mission. The Crew Dragon should reach orbit in just 8 minutes and 47 seconds after takeoff, while the 1st stage of the Falcon 8 should land at 9 minutes, 22 seconds after launch. Credit: NASA TV
The “launch window” of a mission is the time set by the ground controllers when a rocket can take off and be in the best position to properly deploy a satellite, or for a spacecraft to meet the International Space Station. Once a launch window opens, there is often a time when a rocket can delay and complete its mission. Other missions, like Demo-2, have an “instant launch window”. This means that the rocket must take off at the exact moment when the timer reaches T-zero. Otherwise, the launch must be stopped for that day and delayed until the next launch window opens.
If Demo-2 cannot take off on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. EDT, either due to a technical problem or due to hazardous weather conditions, NASA and SpaceX have set alternate launch windows at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30 and 3 p.m. EDT Sunday May 31.
SpaceX Demo-1 went perfectly during the launch and arrival at the International Space Station on March 2, 2019. Credit: NASA TV
NASA says the latest weather forecast from the US Air Force’s 45th meteorological squadron gives a 60% chance of favorable conditions for the launch of the demo-2. The main weather forecasts noted for launch are the potential of spacecraft to fly through precipitation, cumulonimbus storm clouds or cumulus clouds – anything that could be troublesome for a space launch.
Read: Lightning almost condemned the Apollo 12 Moon mission of 1969
NEW GENERATION SPACE FLIGHT
The past spaceships that transported astronauts into orbit were marvels of technology. The SpaceX Crew Dragon, on the other hand, appears to be something straight out of science fiction that has been made real.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (foreground) and Bob Behnken are seated in the Crew Dragon pod, which is equipped with touchscreen controls. Credit: NASA
Although the two astronauts appear cramped in the photo above, the Crew Dragon is surprisingly spacious compared to the old spacecraft. Even today’s Soyuz capsules are very small, with little space for astronauts and cosmonauts to move around during a launch.
SpaceX’s “anthropomorphic test device” or ATD, named “Ripley”, made the journey to the ISS during the Unmanned Demo-1 mission. There were certainly no people on this flight. Credit: NASA TV
According to NASA: * “As a final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft and operational capabilities. It will also be the first time that NASA astronauts have tested the spacecraft systems in orbit. “*
Sources: NASA | SpaceX | 45th Weather Squadron