The Crew Dragon capsule of the Crew-5 mission is ready for takeoff


SpaceX. The launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Crew-5 mission is scheduled for this Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Find out all about the project around this capsule like no other.

This Wednesday, October 5, 2022, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, American astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Kasada, and Japanese Koichi Wakata will depart from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Town for the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon capsule in Canaveral, Florida. Launches were postponed several times due to Hurricane Yan. The teams, however, will continue to monitor the weather until tomorrow and “adjust the launch date again if necessary”.

In March 2022, NASA extended its contract with SpaceX, which will continue to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. For this, the company led by Elon Musk has been using the Crew Dragon capsule since 2020. However, a few weeks after the announcement of the extension of the contract between NASA and SpaceX, the latter announced that the production of these capsules must be stopped. . Four of them are still in service and may continue to be used, but in the long term SpaceX is counting on taking over the famous Starship spacecraft. Starship, considered the most powerful rocket ever designed, could make its first orbital test flight in the coming months, according to Elon Musk.

At the end of September 2022, NASA and SpaceX also signed an agreement for a rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been orbiting our planet since April 1990. The old telescope is slowly falling towards the earth and needs to be raised to its original position orbit. Without this strategy, it will be desorbed in the coming years. To raise Hubble, NASA could therefore call on SpaceX, allowing a few more years of use for the telescope, which is still widely used today. The agreement provides for changes to Hubble’s current orbit as well as “tours” of the spacecraft by astronauts from a Crew Dragon capsule.

What is the SpaceX project?

SpaceX is an aerospace engineering company founded in 2002 by engineer Elon Musk. From the beginning of his company, his ambition was to establish a city on Mars. To finance the project in the long run, he participated in various NASA programs with his company and sold his services to private companies.

Among its activities, SpaceX has been transporting astronauts to the International Space Station in its Crew Dragon capsules since 2020. It puts numerous telescopes into orbit using rockets from various companies, most notably the Falcon 9 rocket. Also involved with NASA in various projects. Such as the Artemis program for which it would provide, among other things, a Starship spacecraft, or a Hubble telescope rescue mission.

SpaceX is working on a program to provide Internet access around the world. For this, thousands of satellites have been placed around the Earth since 2019. The service, called Starlink, promises very high-speed Internet access and already had 10,000 subscribers in February 2021.

Why is Crew Dragon a unique capsule?

In 2011, when NASA decided to stop using US space shuttles after the 2003 Shuttle Columbia accident, it became dependent on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. That’s why SpaceX is committed to delivering the Crew Dragon capsule a few years later to carry some of the astronaut crew to the ISS. The company thus returned NASA’s independence from Russia to transit its astronauts. One of a kind, Crew Dragon presents itself as a very modern capsule with its sleek design and user interface. Mechanical buttons are replaced by tactile interfaces and armchairs are adjusted to the astronauts’ morphology before departure.

Finally, to questions of the economic situation, SpaceX announced the end of production of the Crew Dragon in 2022. However, four reusable vehicles are still operational and will still allow for many flights on the Crew Dragon. Gradually, these vehicles should be replaced by new starship shuttles, which are still being designed today.

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Capsule Crew Dragon © Paopano – stock.adobe.com

Who are the SpaceX astronauts?

Since May 30, 2020, the date of the first manned flight of the Crew Dragon capsule aboard the Falcon 9 launcher, many astronauts have traveled between the International Space Station and Earth in the vehicle. In October 2022, 30 astronauts boarded the Crew Dragon capsule from its maiden flight. Among these astronauts, the vast majority are Americans such as Nicole Mann and Josh Kasada on the Crew-5 mission, but there are also Europeans such as Thomas Pesquet, Matthias Maure and Samantha Cristoforetti, Japanese such as Koichi Wakata or Russians such as Anna Kikina (Crew-5 mission).

SpaceX has also designed new clothing for astronauts traveling on their rockets. These combinations are distinctly different from those previously known. Fitted, tailored and strongly evoking the costumes of movie superheroes, these jumpsuits were designed by Hollywood costume designer: Jose Fernandez. They were actually wanted by Elon Musk as the real “space tuxedo”. Bets are taken for the costume designer who has done a remarkable job Fantastic Four or the avenger.

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Futuristic-happiness suite offered by SpaceX © SpaceX/UPI//SIPA (Published 10/03/2022)

What is SpaceX’s next launch in 2022-2023?

Rocket launches are very dependent on weather conditions, which is why dates are planned only a few weeks in advance. In October 2022, several SpaceX rocket launches are planned:

October 5, 2022Two Falcon 9 rockets took off on the same day. The first will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station and the second has a mission to put two American satellites into orbit.

October 14, 2022A Falcon 9 rocket will take off, carrying a 4.5-ton television satellite load for the French company Eutelsat.

October 20, 2022A batch of Starlink satellites will be transported by a Falcon 9 to join the Starlink constellation.

In total, Elon Musk plans to launch 100 SpaceX rockets by 2023. A large portion of these launches are intended to put Starlink satellites into orbit, while others are for private companies. A small number of launches are commercial flights, for example, intended to transport astronauts to the ISS.

SpaceX thus plans at least four manned flights by the end of 2023. Three of these concern the rotation of astronauts working on the ISS. These are Crew-5, Crew-6 and Crew-7 leaving Earth in October 2022, April 2023 and September 2023 respectively.

The Falcon 9 rocket is a space launcher developed by the SpaceX company. Its specialty is that it is partially reusable, allowing the booster to be recycled after each launch. In practice, when the two stages separate after takeoff, the lower part of the rocket returns to Earth and can be recovered for the next launch. For this, the main stage is equipped with feet that unfold during descent and fins to orient the stage during descent towards Earth.

The Falcon 9 rocket is equipped with 9 Merlin engines. The upper part contains the fairing which holds the payload of the rocket, i.e. the passengers or material that we want to transport. This headdress could contain a Crew Dragon capsule and astronauts or even satellites.

What is the Falcon 9 rocket fuel?

The Falcon 9 rocket is equipped with 10 Marlin engines. They work on a mixture of kerosene and oxygen. In fact, it is the gases created from the combustion of kerosene that propel the rocket upwards. However, for the latter to burn, it must be exposed to oxygen. For this reason the rocket is equipped with two separate tanks. One is filled with fuel: kerosene, and the other is filled with oxygen. These two tanks are connected to a chamber where these two liquids come into contact, allowing combustion. This chemical reaction releases a large amount of gas that is released under the pressure of the rocket and propels it into the air. What is the difference between NASA and SpaceX?

SpaceX is a private company while NASA is a US government funded agency. They worked together on several space projects. SpaceX notably supplies the Falcon 9 launcher, and it sells its services by transporting satellites into orbit or even transiting astronauts to the ISS.

Who owns SpaceX?

Elon Musk is the owner and founder of SpaceX. He is an American engineer, entrepreneur and businessman of South African and Canadian descent. After founding and selling several companies, he set out to conquer Mars in 2002 by founding SpaceX with the ambition of colonizing the Red Planet by developing more affordable and reusable rockets.

Today, Elon Musk is one of the richest and most influential personalities in the world. His company SpaceX collaborates with NASA on the American space agency’s most ambitious projects, such as the Artemis program.

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