If theres nothing wrong, a manned Dragon spaceship leaves SpaceX to the ISS for the second time next night. On board are four astronauts this time. On the successful first test flight earlier this year, only two crew members went along.
The crew consists of three NASA astronauts and a crew member of the Japanese space agency JAXA. The astronauts of the Crew-1 mission will remain on board the space station for six months after docking with the ISS.
The launch was scheduled for last night, but was postponed 24 hours due to strong winds. For tonight, the chance of launching is 50 percent, reports NASA.
The spectacle will not differ much from the start of the first manned Dragon in late May, expected Spacex connoisseur Ronald Klompe. Before landing, a few small things have been adjusted. “Spectacular little improvements were needed after the first manned flight.”
Only a few little things had to be adjusted. “The trigger for opening the parachutes went off a little early and there was some erosion on the heat shield. That did not pose any danger, but it was in a place where they dont want it, so some harder material has been used there.”
From six to seven
Its the first time four crew members arrive at the ISS at the same time. Since 2011, astronauts could only take Russian Soyuz to the ISS, and only three people fit. With two connected Soyuz capsules, the crew consisted of up to six people for years. Now thats gonna be seven.
Thats good news, says Klompe. “Now the crew has spent relatively much time maintaining the space station at the expense of time for scientific experiments. With a seventh crew member there is more time for that.”
Too few sleeping places
It is a bit of fitting and measuring, because at the moment there are not enough personal sleeping places in the ISS. “There are six of them, so the commander of Crew-1 is going to sleep in the Dragon until an additional crew cabin comes with a cargo flight in a few months.”
The astronauts take a number of scientific experiments in the Crew Dragon. Parts of the new spacesuit that NASA intends to use on the moon are tested and microbes that can break down rock. For astronauts to the moon or Mars in the future, they may produce nutrients for plants or raw materials for building materials.
If the flight runs smoothly, both the Dragon and the rocket that inserts the capsule into space will be reused. The capsule is now the first commercial spacecraft certified to transport astronauts.
The first manned flight was still part of the certification process. In the coming years, Boeing also wants to transport astronauts to the ISS with the CST-100 Starliner. He needs to make a successful unmanned test flight first.