The facts are being revealed, and we are getting a clearer picture of how SpaceX plans to accomplish their first trip to space. Of course, they will be ‘borrowing’ some astronauts from NASA. This may go on for a while until the company trains its astronauts who can then manage the frequent trips to space.
SpaceX is obviously getting closer to achieving their goal, establishing a commercial shuttle to enable more people to visit space. Meetings are already taking place between the President of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell and the proposed group of NASA astronauts. The Crew Dragon is being developed as a commercial crew spacecraft that can carry more people to visit space. The press was present at the meeting, and some of the preparations made for the astronauts to begin training were revealed by SpaceX.
With a few years to prepare for the historic event, it is the responsibility of SpaceX to provide the training equipment for the Crew Dragon. It has been revealed that two significant pieces of the simulation hardware are going to be made available to the astronauts. They will have their first encounter with the interior part of the capsule and eventually become familiar with SpaceX designs.
The simulator will feature the seating arrangement and controls for the commander and pilot in the capsule. It will also have touchscreen displays that are responsive to the gloves worn by the astronauts. The screens and buttons have been aligned in a way that the astronauts will find them easy to use during the training.
The touch screens in the Crew Dragon has been enhanced to have features such as the orbital flight tracking, and the display of the earth view in a flexible way according to the astronaut’s preferences. They will also be able to track the location and activate an altitude control view to control the navigation of the Crew Dragon in space manually. It is so sophisticated. Operations such as the altering of a course can be done with a single tap on the touchscreen.
It was also revealed the Crew Dragon features an eject button for emergencies. With a tap on the touchscreen, the astronauts can save themselves by igniting the engines on the capsule to propel it away from danger. The computer is programmed to show simple illustrations that can be used to monitor and ensure the entire system is functioning properly.
From all indications, the NASA astronauts will be using a fully automated spacecraft – the Crew Dragon for this experience. In the next months, they will begin training with the simulators that feature all the controls that are present in the real Crew Dragon.
During the simulation training, the astronauts will not be able to experience what it will feel like during the rocket flight when the capsule is attached to SpaceX’s Falcon 9. This is expected to be a rough ride, but the astronauts will be expected to rely on past experiences to get through this phase.
The NASA astronauts who will participate in SpaceX’s program are Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover. They will be working with Garret Reisman who is a senior adviser at SpaceX, and Benjamin Reed, the director of crew mission management. Among the four NASA astronauts, Victor Glover stands out as the astronaut who will be making his first trip to space. The other three astronauts have been involved in earlier missions so it will not be a new experience for them. The Crew Dragon will be piloted by Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken who are veteran astronauts
The planned trip with the Crew Dragon is expected to last for two weeks. It is scheduled to happen in April 2019. It is important that this trip is successful which will confirm the readiness of the Crew Dragon for future commercial trips to space. After a successful trip, the crew Dragon will be prepared for its first operational flight to the ISS which is scheduled to last for one month.
During the press conference, the astronauts expressed their excitement about the planned trip. It will be a historical event, and they are happy to be chosen by NASA. They have been spending more time in Florida where the launch is expected to take place.
When asked whether the plans will go as scheduled, the spokesperson at SpaceX confirmed that all efforts are focused on ensuring that nothing prevents the scheduled launch from taking place next year. It was however revealed the company is taking the safety of the participants and crew very seriously. It is an indication that any changes in the plans may be due to some unexpected discovery that may render the craft unsafe for launch at the scheduled time.
It has been revealed that as many as 7,000 engineers are involved in this project. The idea is to ensure that everything is done to make the launch a success.
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