Wednesday, July 8, 2020

NASA planning on emergency escape from ISS using SpaceX Crew Dragon

SpaceX made history on May 30, 2020, by becoming the first private company to launch astronauts onboard its human-rated spacecraft, the Crew Dragon. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley set off towards the International Space Station (ISS) on a NASA mission titled “Demo-2,” testing the capabilities of the SpaceX Crew Dragon for NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

The first official mission with 4 NASA astronauts, called Crew-1, is expected to launch later this year. The main goals the current Demo-2 aims to accomplish is to test the spacecraft and all its functionality, including manual control. However, it seems NASA is planning on conducting another unprecedented test with Crew Dragon: escaping the ISS in an emergency rehearsal.

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According to Teslerati, the drill will “rehearse” an “emergency” in which the four of the five ISS crewmembers will simulate a last-minute escape from the space station. Unfortunately, this is all the information that we currently know about the planned demonstration.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley preparing to head to the Launch Pad 39-A riding a Tesla Model X on May 30, 2020, for historic first SpaceX crewed launch. | Image: NASA

Along with the planned demonstration, other tests are currently still being conducted with Crew Dragon. In a Q&, the new head of NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office Kathy Lueders, says, “The Crew Dragon has been doing great. Every week it wakes up and we do checkouts, and then it goes back into sleep mode. The crew on orbit have also been putting it through its paces. About to do a demonstration with four crew members in the vehicle at once.”

She also said that the mission is expected to return to Earth early in August. Right now, the crew of the ISS consists of the 2 NASA astronauts that launched aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, and 1 NASA astronaut + 2 Roscosmos astronauts that launched aboard Russia’s Soyuz. The demonstration is planned to take place with four of these five astronauts, including one Roscosmos astronaut.

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