Crew Dragon Demo-2

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Crew Demo-2
SpaceX Demo-2
Dragon Crew Demo-2
SpaceX Demo-2 Launch (NHQ202005300044).jpg
A Falcon 9 Block 5 launches Endeavour from Kennedy Space Center at the start of the mission
Mission typeISS crew transport
Operator
COSPAR ID2020-033A
SATCAT no.45623
Mission duration
  • Planned: 64 days
  • Elapsed: 36 days, 17 hours and 5 minutes
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftCrew Dragon C206 Endeavour
ManufacturerSpaceX
Crew
Launching
Start of mission
Launch date30 May 2020, 19:22:45 (2020-05-30UTC19:22:45) UTC[1]
RocketFalcon 9 Block 5 (B1058.1)
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
ContractorSpaceX
End of mission
Landing date2 August 2020 (planned)[2]
Landing siteAtlantic Ocean
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Inclination51.66°[1]
Docking with ISS
Docking portHarmony PMA-2[3]
Docking date31 May 2020, 14:27 UTC[4][5]
Time docked35 days and 22 hours
Crew Dragon Demo-2 Patch.png SpaceX Demo-2.png
NASA (left) and SpaceX (right) insignias
Crew Dragon Demo-2 Bob and Doug.jpg
Behnken (left) and Hurley (right) 

Crew Dragon Demo-2 (officially Crew Demo-2, SpaceX Demo-2, or Dragon Crew Demo-2)[a] is a crewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which launched on 30 May 2020 at 19:22:45 UTC.[6][10][11] Demo-2 is the first crewed orbital spaceflight launched from the United States since the final Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, in 2011, and also the first ever operated by a commercial provider.[12] The mission, which launched spacecraft commander Douglas Hurley and joint-operations commander Robert Behnken to the International Space Station, is also the first two-person orbital spaceflight launched from the United States since STS-4 in 1982. The spacecraft soft docked with the International Space Station on 10:16 a.m. EDT (14:16 UTC) on 31 May 2020. Following soft capture, 12 hooks were closed to complete a hard capture at 10:27 a.m. EDT (14:27 UTC).[4] The first attempt to launch on 27 May 2020 was aborted due to bad weather caused by Tropical Storm Bertha 16 minutes and 53 seconds prior to launch.[13][14]

NASA has agreed to allow its astronauts to fly on reused Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 boosters beginning as soon as SpaceX's third launch of a crew to the International Space Station, a mission expected to launch next year. NASA says SpaceX could begin reusing Crew Dragon vehicles and Falcon 9 first stages on crewed launches beginning with the second post-certification mission, or Crew-2. The Crew-2 launch is scheduled in 2021. The Crew-1 mission — SpaceX's first operational astronaut flight — is slated to fly with in mid-September 2020.[15]

Background[edit]

After STS-135, the final mission of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, NASA no longer had any spacecraft system capable of sending humans to space. Subsequently, it used Russian facilities to send its astronauts into the International Space Station (ISS), costing up to US$80 million per astronaut with the Soyuz. NASA started engaging with private companies like SpaceX as an alternative, which is expected to cost 50% less than Soyuz once the Commercial Crew Program is in regular operation.[16] Up to the launch, NASA has awarded a total of US$3.1 billion for the development of the Dragon.[17] The Demo-2 mission is expected to be SpaceX's last major test before NASA certifies it for regular crewed spaceflights.[12] Prior to that, SpaceX had sent twenty cargo missions to the ISS, but never a crewed one.[17] Other than SpaceX, Boeing is also working on crewed orbital spaceflight under the same NASA effort.[12]

Crew[edit]

Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken were announced as the primary crew on 3 August 2018.[18] Both astronauts are veterans of the Space Shuttle program,[19] and the Demo-2 flight was the third trip to space for both of them. The lead flight director for this mission is Zebulon Scoville.[20] Additionally, each crew member brought along a toy from their family: in this case an Apatosaurus dinosaur named "Tremor" and a Ty flippables plush toy. As in past space missions, the plush toy was used as an indication of zero gravity for the strapped-in astronauts. Behnken and Hurley said, "That was a super cool thing for us to get a chance to do for both of our sons who I hope are super excited to see their toys floating around with us on board".[21][22] NASA calculated the loss-of-crew (LOC) probability for the test flight as 1-in-276, lower than the commercial crew program requirement threshold of 1-in-270. The 1-in-276 number includes mitigations to reduce the risk, such as on-orbit inspections of the Crew Dragon spacecraft once it is docked at the space station to look for damage from micrometeoroids and orbital debris (MMOD). NASA pegs the overall risk of a loss of mission (LOM) as 1-in-60. That risk covers scenarios where the Crew Dragon does not reach the space station as planned, but the crew safely returns to Earth.[23] NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren was the sole backup crew member for the flight, backing up both Hurley and Behnken for the mission.[24]

Prime crew
Position[25] Astronaut
Spacecraft commander United States Douglas Hurley, NASA
Expedition 63
Third spaceflight
Joint operations commander United States Robert Behnken, NASA
Expedition 63
Third spaceflight
Backup crew
Position Astronaut
Spacecraft commander United States Kjell Lindgren, NASA

Insignia and livery[edit]

Falcon 9 and Dragon rolls out to the launch pad, bearing the NASA "worm" logo.

The mission insignia was designed by Andrew Nyberg, an artist from Brainerd, Minnesota, who is a nephew of spacecraft commander Hurley.[26] The insignia features the logos of the Commercial Crew Program, Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, and the red chevron of NASA's "meatball" insignia. Also depicted are the American flag and a graphic representation of the ISS. The words NASA, SPACEX, HURLEY and BEHNKEN are printed around the border, along with the words FIRST CREWED FLIGHT and DM-2. The insignia outline is in the shape of the Crew Dragon capsule.[27] The Falcon 9 rocket displays NASA's worm logo. This is the first time the logo has been used officially since it was retired in 1992.[28] NASA TV and media coverage of the launch was branded as "Launch America", with its own logo.[29][30]

Mission[edit]

Summary[edit]

The Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission was intended to complete the validation of crewed spaceflight operations using SpaceX hardware.[31] If successful, the demonstration flight would allow for human-rating certification of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, the Falcon 9 rocket, the crew transportation system, the launch pad, and SpaceX's capabilities. The mission includes astronaut testing of Crew Dragon capabilities on orbit.[32] The Crew Dragon capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A on 30 May 2020, and docked to pressurized mating adapter PMA-2 on the Harmony module of the ISS on 31 May 2020.[33][34] It was the first American crewed launch of a space capsule since the ASTP Apollo. It was the first American-launched mission to deliver expedition crew to the ISS since STS-128, which saw Space Shuttle Discovery fly Nicole Stott to the ISS in August 2009. The first stage booster landed autonomously on the floating barge Of Course I Still Love You, which was prepositioned in the Atlantic Ocean.[35] Docking and undocking operations were autonomously controlled by the Crew Dragon, but monitored by the flight crew in case manual intervention becomes necessary.[25] Upon returning to Earth, the Crew Dragon capsule will splashdown into the Atlantic Ocean, where it will be recovered by the GO Navigator recovery vessel.[25] Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken will work alongside the crew of Expedition 63 for 30 to 90 days, meaning the landing of the spacecraft will occur no later than 28 August 2020.[19] During their time aboard, Behnken is expected to conduct four spacewalks with fellow American astronaut Chris Cassidy to replace batteries brought up by a Japanese cargo vehicle.[36] The HTV-9 cargo vehicle was berthed on 25 May 2020, carrying the final set of six lithium-ion batteries to replace the aging nickel-hydrogen batteries.[37]

Preparations and launch[edit]

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine greet Behnken and Hurley at Kennedy, while wearing face masks and practicing social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission was initially planned for launch in July 2019 as part of the Commercial Crew Development contract with a crew of two on a 14-day test mission to the ISS.[38][18] The Crew Dragon capsule from the Crew Dragon Demo-1 mission was destroyed while its SuperDraco thrusters were undergoing static fire testing on 20 April 2019, ahead of its planned use for the in-flight abort test.[39][40] SpaceX traced the cause of the anomaly to a component that leaked oxidizer into the high-pressure helium lines, which then solidified and damaged a valve. The valves have since been switched for burst discs to prevent another anomaly.[41] On 19 January 2020, a Crew Dragon capsule successfully completed an in-flight abort test.[42] NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on 9 April 2020 that he was "fairly confident" that astronauts could fly to the ISS aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship at the end of May or in early June 2020, pending final parachute tests, data reviews and a training schedule that could escape major impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[43]

On 17 April 2020, NASA and SpaceX announced the launch date as 27 May 2020.[32] The arrival of the Crew Dragon will raise the station's crew size from three to five. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will perform duties and conduct experiments as crew on board the ISS for several months, until the next Crew Dragon launch. Hurley and Behnken are expected to live and work aboard the space station for two or three months, and then return to Earth for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape Canaveral.[32][44] NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine urged space enthusiasts not to travel to the Kennedy Space Center to view the launch and asked people to instead watch the launch on television or online. Bridenstine explained that maintenance crews are working in cohesive shifts, to mitigate workers' exposure to SARS-CoV-2.[45] On 1 May 2020, SpaceX successfully demonstrated the Mark 3 parachute system, a critical milestone for the mission approval.[46] Crew Dragon Demo-2 has marked the first crewed United States spaceflight mission not to include the presence of the public at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[47] As the mission was previously delayed, the Visitor Complex has opened as of 28 May 2020 with limited capacity for publicly viewing the launch. Admissions sold out almost immediately.[48] To engage the public, notably the Class of 2020, who were unable to attend their graduations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both NASA and SpaceX invited students and graduates to submit their photos to be flown to the ISS.[49]

Joint NASA and SpaceX broadcast of the mission's launch, from ignition to capsule separation

Behnken and Hurley arrived at Kennedy Space Center on 20 May 2020 in preparation for the launch. On 21 May 2020, the Falcon 9 rocket was rolled out to the launch pad, and a static fire test was conducted on 22 May 2020; a major milestone ahead of the launch.[50] The mission used a Tesla Model X to transport Hurley and Behnken to LC-39A, the journey did not use Tesla Autopilot.[51] An official launch weather forecast for Dragon Crew Demo-2 by the 45th Weather Squadron of the U.S. Space Force, for the original launch time at 20:33:33 UTC on 27 May 2020, predicted a 50% probability of favorable conditions. The launch was scrubbed at T−16:53 minutes due to thunderstorms and light rain in the area. The second launch attempt was successful and took place on 30 May 2020 at 19:22:45 UTC with a 50% probability of favorable conditions.[52][53] The other launch windows were 31 May 2020 at 19:00:07 UTC, with a 60% probability of favorable conditions and 2 June 2020 at 18:13 UTC with a 70% probability of favorable conditions.[54][55] President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, with their wives, were at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see the launch attempt on 27 May 2020,[56] and returned for launch on 30 May 2020, along with the Second Lady Karen Pence.[55][57] The launch live stream was watched online by 3 million people on NASA feeds,[58] and the SpaceX feed peaked at 4.1 million viewers. NASA estimated roughly 10 million people watched on various online platforms, approximately 150,000 people gathered on Florida's space coast[59] in addition to an unknown number watching on television.

Launch Attempts[edit]

Attempt Planned Result Turnaround Reason Decision point Weather go (%) Notes
1 27 May 2020, 8:33:33 pm scrubbed weather 27 May 2020, 8:16 pm 50 ocket generated lightning risk (field mill rule violation)[60]
2 30 May 2020, 7:22:45 pm success 2 days, 22 hours, 49 minutes

Orbit and docking[edit]

Endeavour arrived at the ISS nineteen hours into its flight. Behnken and Hurley greeted the crew of Expedition 63 shortly after the hatch was opened three hours later.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken revealed the name of their Crew Dragon spacecraft (capsule 206), Endeavour shortly after launch, reviving an old tradition from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs where astronauts would name their spacecraft.[61] It is the third US spacecraft named Endeavour, after the Space Shuttle orbiter of the same name built in 1991 to replace Space Shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed in 1986,[62] and the Apollo command and service module used for the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.[63] Hurley said that they chose Endeavour as both his and Behnken's first flights to space were on the Space Shuttle Endeavour.[5] The crew were awakened on the second day of the flight with Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan".[64] NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during the Gemini program, and first used music to wake up a flight crew during Apollo 15. Each track is specially chosen, often by the astronauts' families, and usually has a special meaning to an individual member of the crew, or is applicable to their daily activities.[65] Nineteen hours after launch, Endeavour approached the ISS; Hurley demonstrated the ability to pilot the spacecraft via its touchscreen controls until it reached a distance of 220 metres (720 ft) from the ISS docking ports, at which point they let the automated docking program take over. Endeavour soft-docked with the ISS at 14:16 UTC on 31 May 2020.[5] Following soft capture, 12 hooks were closed to complete a hard capture at 10:27 a.m. EDT (14:27 UTC).[4] The hatch was opened and Hurley and Behnken boarded the ISS at 17:22 UTC.[5][66][67] Hurley and Behnken joined the ISS Expedition 63 crew, which consists of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoli Ivanishin.[68] Hurley and Behnken are expected to stay on the ISS from six to sixteen weeks, depending on NASA's mission directives.[5]

Spacewalks[edit]

On 26 June 2020, spacewalkers Behnken and Cassidy completed the first of four scheduled spacewalks.

On 26 June 2020, Expedition 63's first spacewalk, American spacewalk 65, began at 11:32 UTC with Cassidy and Behnken. The two NASA astronauts concluded their spacewalk at 17:39 UTC, after six hours and seven minutes. The two NASA astronauts completed all the work planned for this first of four spacewalks: to replace batteries that provide power for the station's solar arrays on the starboard truss of the complex, as well as initial tasks originally planned for the second scheduled spacewalk on 1 July 2020. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations. The spacewalkers removed five of six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for one of two power channels for the starboard 6 (S6) truss, installed two of three new lithium-ion batteries, and installed two of three associated adapter plates that are used to complete the power circuit to the new batteries. Mission control reports that the two new batteries are working.[69]

This was the seventh spacewalk for each astronaut. Cassidy now has spent a total of 37 hours and 21 minutes spacewalking, and Behnken has spent a total of 43 hours and 40 minutes spacewalking. Space station crew members have conducted 228 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 59 days, 18 hours, and 33 minutes working outside the station.[69]

On 1 July 2020, American spacewalk 66 began at 11:13 UTC with astronauts Cassidy and Behnken. The two NASA astronauts concluded their spacewalk at 17:14 UTC, after six hours and one minute. The two NASA astronauts completed half the work to upgrade the batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the station's solar arrays. They moved and connected one new lithium-ion battery to complete the circuit to the new battery and relocated one nickel-hydrogen battery to an external platform for future disposal. They also loosened the bolts on nickel-hydrogen batteries that will be replaced to complete the power capability upgrade on the far starboard truss and complete the station's battery replacement work that began in January 2017.[70]

This was the eighth spacewalk for each astronaut. Cassidy now has spent a total of 43 hours and 22 minutes spacewalking. Behnken has now spent a total of 49 hours and 41 minutes spacewalking. Space station crew members have conducted 229 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 60 days, 00 hours, and 34 minutes working outside the station.[70]

Behnken and Cassidy will complete the work during the final two spacewalks later this month. Cassidy and Behnken also will route power and ethernet cables in preparation for the installation of a new external wireless communications system with an enhanced HD camera and increase helmet camera coverage for future spacewalks. To support future power system upgrades, they also will remove a device called an "H-Fixture" that was installed before the solar arrays were launched to the space station.[70]

Return[edit]

NASA mission managers are evaluating additional sites off Panama City, Tallahassee, Tampa and Daytona Beach to provide more options in the event of stormy tropical weather.[2]

Timeline[edit]

  • T+00:00 (19:22:45 UTC): the Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida.[10][71]
  • T+01:01: Max-Q was reached.[72]
  • T+02:38: MECO (main engine cutoff) occurred.[72]
  • T+02:40: Stage 1 separated from stage 2 of the rocket.[72]
  • T+07:19: Stage 1 of the rocket began its entry burn, slowing it down for entry into the atmosphere.[72]
  • T+08:50: SECO (second engine cutoff) occurred.[72]
  • T+08:58: The stage 1 rocket began its landing burn, which slowed it down for touchdown at sea on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.[72]
  • T+09:31: Stage 1 of the rocket landed on the drone ship.[72]
  • T+12:08: Crew Dragon separated from the second stage and began a course for the International Space Station.[72]
  • T+17:54:00: Crew Dragon reached Waypoint 1 for docking with the ISS.
  • T+18:54:40: Initial soft docking with the ISS.
  • T+19:05:00: Hard docking with the ISS.[4]
  • T+21:39:00: Hatch opening[5][66][67]
  • T+21:59:40: Behnken and Hurley entered ISS.
  • T+18 days: The DARPA REDEYE-2 (PINOT) (1998-067RM) satellite was deployed at 17:50 UTC on 17 June.[73]
  • T+24 days: REDEYE-3 (CABERNET) (1998-067RN) was deployed around 21:10 UTC on 23 June.[73]
  • T+27 days: First spacewalk
  • T+32 days: Second spacewalk
  • T+?? days: Third spacewalk
  • T+?? days: Fourth spacewalk
  • T+?? days: ISS boost burn (minor)
  • T+?? days: Undocking
  • Undocking+1 day (?): Capsule return to Earth
  • T+64 days: Landing planned mission end

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Mission operator SpaceX refers to the mission as "Crew Demo-2",[6] while customer NASA refers to the mission as "SpaceX Demo-2",[7][8] and the United States Space Force refers to the mission as "Dragon Crew Demo-2".[9] Unless where noted, this article uses "Demo-2" to refer this mission.

Citations

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External links[edit]

Extended video series from SpaceX: