SpaceX News and Updates Today!
By: Patrick McNamara
Written: December 17th 2020
Posted: January 6th, 2021
Many exciting things have been happening in the space world. For starters, the last time I wrote about SpaceX was when they launched their Dragon 2.0 demo mission. This was the unmanned mission that would test the dragon’s capabilities in their quest to get a human-rated spacecraft certified by NASA. A lot has happened since then.
Crew Dragon Demo 1.
Crew Demo 1 was the first time SpaceX had launched humans in any space capsule. It was a critical mission to test the flight controls and features of this shiny new 21st century spacecraft. The astronauts on board were Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken. They made the very first trip up to the International Space Station (ISS) via a SpaceX dragon. They spent some time up in space (longer than originally planned, but this was a test of the Dragon’s power system), and safely splashed down 63 days later. They were met with SpaceX’s recovery vessel.
Crew 1 was the following flight which included 3 NASA astronauts and 1 JAXA (Japanese Aerospace) members. This is truly astounding when we realize that America has not had a human-flight rated capsule since the last shuttle flight, and now we can launch up to 4 astronauts at once. (Note, there is limited space on the ISS). The astronauts on Crew 1 include Michael S. Hopkins, Victor J. Glover (this was his first time in space), Soichi Noguchi (JAXA), Shannon Walker. They are expected to stay aboard the ISS for 180 days. They successfully launched on board a Falcon 9 on November 15th, 2020.
Planned: Crew 2.
Per NASA’s website: “NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the mission. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join as mission specialists.”
It really is remarkable to see international flights aboard the Dragon. Russia will have to human-rate the Dragon before they fly aboard the new craft.
Note: The ISS has limited beds on the ISS. Currently there are 8 astronauts on board (As of 12/18/2020). Crew Dragon Commander Michael S. Hopkins has posted photos of his sleeping bag, which is in the Dragon capsule, since there are limited sleeping quarters on the ISS.
Current astro/cosmonauts on the ISS: Michael S. Hopkins, Victor J. Glover, Soichi Noguchi, Shannon Walker. Already on board were Chris Cassidy, Sergei Ryzhikov, Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, and Kathleen Rubin. The last 3 flew up on the Russian soyuz before Crew 1 arrived.
Serial Number 8 of the Starhopper, (SpaceX’s prototype Mar’s rocket), took flight in spectacular fashion just last week. It flew its planned course, fell through the air, and landed with a large explosion due to a pressure issue within the crash. It blew away expectations and completed 90% of the flight. Keep in mind that the Starship is nothing like the Falcon 9, so there is no reason for concern. This prototype vehicle is currently powered by 3 of SpaceX’s flagship rocket engines, the Raptor. It is currently the most powerful rocket engine ever flown, and will hopefully someday power the Starship to Mars.
The Starship is expected to fly 17,000 pounds (53,000 kilograms) of payload in its belly- which is twice the amount that the Space Shuttle was capable of carrying.
So, that’s a wrap with everything SpaceX. We really do live in an exciting time for space! For more Space news, check out these channels on Youtube:
Scott Manley: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxzC4EngIsMrPmbm6Nxvb-A
Between these three you’ll get all the space news you need!
Sources: Nasa.gov, spacex.com, Wikipedia.