SpaceX’s Crew Dragon performed ‘beautifully’ on ISS as NASA took a backup ride

SpaceX’s crew is doing “beautifully” the Dragon astronaut taxi that has so far been in its first operational, prolonged stay on the International Space Station, NASA’s astronaut chief Cathy Leders told The Reporter Door. The capsule, named Resilience, sent three astronauts from NASA and a Japanese astronaut to the station in November last year, and a trivial housekeeping task is just the unexpected hiccup the crew faced.

“We were very happy, very happy with how things are going,” Lieders said in an interview. He said, “The only minor thing we had was a few small pieces of lint on the seal.” Where the crew join the Dragon ISS, he said. Astronauts have been floating in and out of the spacecraft for months, creating a lint and dust.

SpaceX embarked on a Crew-1 mission on 15 November, with commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese astronaut. The mission marked its final test milestone last summer with the return of two American astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, as SpaceX’s first full operations mission.

Some extra dust is certainly not the worst problem NASA and SpaceX can face the $ 100 billion Orbital Laboratory that has placed astronauts in Earth orbit for less than 20 years. “I can handle housekeeping issues,” Lieders said. The Astronauts are using a vacuum to suck up all the lint, but for a long-term fix for the pileup, a small cover on the NS15 Cargo Reassembly mission was landed at the station, which Northrop Grumman launched on Saturday .

NASA and SpaceX have closely monitored the crew dragon’s health in space as it has become 98 days long for the ISS – the longest period for a human-rated US spacecraft. Perhaps most familiar with the capsule is Hopkins, who continues to use the Crew Dragon as his bunking quarters, while others sleep elsewhere at the station. (The liars clarified that Hopkins was not entirely to blame for all the dust – “Don’t get me into trouble with Mike Hopkins, Joey!”

SpaceX’s crew dragon “Resilience” spacecraft is docked for the Harmony module of the International Space Station.
Image: NASA / Johnson Space Center

SpaceX’s next mission crew-2 is slated for April 20, flying the capsule from Behenken and Hurley for the DM-2 mission. NASA decided last year for SpaceX to allow its capsules to be reused for astronaut flights, setting the stage for a rigorous refurbishment and certification process for SpaceX. It will go through the agency with rival capsules from Boeing’s starliner, Crew Drew which is still in development.

The refurb process would take place in Florida, where the company used to refurbish its old cargo dragon vehicles. Lieders said that SpaceX engineers call the renovation facilities of their Kennedy Space Center “Dragonland”. SpaceX has already added infrastructure for crew drug refurbishment. A crew capsule already went through the pipeline: In January, SpaceX re-flew the Crew Dragon as a cargo ship in 2019 (without any astronauts).

NASA still needs a backup seat

Even though the Crew Dragon Resilience is doing well on the ISS, and the upcoming Crew-2 launch is on schedule for April, NASA still wants to make a backup plan. The other three crew members of the station are two Russian Cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, who is due to return to Earth in April, on the same Soyuz capsule they rode in the previous year. If the Crew-2 spacecraft runs into problems before its April flight, NASA will need another option to obtain an astronaut for the ISS. Otherwise, they risk leaving the station for the first time in 2000 with captured NASA crew members.

The agency announced earlier this month that it was seeking another seat on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft as a safety net. The Reporter Door Reportedly NASA negotiated with space infrastructure startup Asiom Space to book that Soyuz seat instead of buying directly from Russia – only the second time in decades-old NASA-Russia relationship to do so.

Lieders said that the American company (specifically without naming Axiom as the negotiations were going on) reached out to NASA with its own proposal and offered a backup solution. So, as a legal formality, NASA issued a notice stating that it was looking to buy the Soyuz seat because – as the Lairders put it – “one of our commercial providers said ‘Hey, here me Is a business opportunity, “so he gave us an unwanted offer. “

Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini co-founded the Houston-based company in 2016 after spending 10 years as NASA’s ISS program manager. It is not clear whether Axiom already owned the Soaz seat that it is selling to NASA or whether the Houston-based company is currently undergoing the process with Roskosmos to buy it. Both Roscosmos (Russia’s space agency) and Axiom declined to comment.

Never mind, NASA and seat swap are ready to assure NASA that it needs to keep American astronauts on the ISS. NASA and the State Department are in the “final stages” coming up with an agreement with Roskosmos to fly on future flights of SpaceX or Boeing’s capsules, in exchange for flying more US astronauts into the Soyuz spacecraft Boeing’s capsules. Adhering to that agreement is a long process.

“We were hoping it would be up a bit soon, and unfortunately it wasn’t happening in time for the April Soyuz seat,” Lieders said. That delay gave Asiom a chance to strike a deal.

“If you said, ‘Kathy, what is your logistics dream?” I would say that every vehicle leading up to the ISS requires an American crew member on it, and we believe that every American vehicle is going to be a Russian crew member on it, ”said Lieders .

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