Crew Dragon Demo-2

SpaceX Demo-2
SpaceX Demo-2 Launch (NHQ202005300044).jpg
Launch of Crew Demo-2
Names
Mission typeISS crew transport
OperatorSpaceX
COSPAR ID2020-033A
SATCAT no.45623
Mission duration
  • Planned: 30 to 90 days
  • Elapsed: 5d 15h 37m
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftCrew Dragon C206 Endeavour
ManufacturerSpaceX
Launch mass553,254 kilograms (1,219,716 lb)
Crew
Launching
Start of mission
Launch date30 May 2020, 19:22:45 (2020-05-30UTC19:22:45) UTC[3]
RocketFalcon 9 Block 5 (B1058)
Launch siteKennedy, LC-39A
ContractorSpaceX
End of mission
Landing datePlanned: between 29 June
and 28 August 2020[4]
Landing siteAtlantic Ocean
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Inclination51.66°[3]
Epoch30 May 2020
Docking with ISS
Docking portHarmony PMA-2[5]
Docking date31 May 2020, 14:16 UTC[6][3]
Time docked4d 20h 43m 58s
Crew Dragon Demo-2 Patch.png Crew Dragon Demo-2 Bob and Doug.jpg
Behnken (left) and Hurley (right) 

Dragon Crew Demo-2 (also referred to as Crew Demo-2 and SpaceX Demo-2)[7][8] is a crewed flight test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which launched on 30 May 2020 at 3:22:45 p.m. EDT (19:22:45 UTC).[2][9][10] The first attempt to launch on 27 May 2020 was aborted at T−16:53 minutes due to bad weather caused by Tropical Storm Bertha.[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 crewed orbital flight ever operated by a commercial provider.[12] The mission launched spacecraft commander Douglas Hurley and joint-operations commander Robert Behnken to the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft soft-docked with the ISS on 31 May 2020 at 10:16 a.m. EDT (14:16 UTC), slightly earlier than the scheduled time of 10:29 a.m. EDT (14:29 UTC). NASA estimated roughly 10 million people watched the launch on various online platforms, approximately 150,000 people gathered on Florida's space coast in addition to an unknown number watching on television. The Crew Dragon capsule used in the launch was named Endeavour, named after the Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105).

Background

After STS-135, the final mission of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the United States' 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 $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.[13] Up to the launch, NASA has awarded a total of $3.1 billion for the development of the Dragon.[14] 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.[14] Other than SpaceX, Boeing is also working on crewed orbital spaceflight under the same NASA effort.[12]

Crew

Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken were announced as the primary crew on 3 August 2018.[15] Both astronauts are veterans of the Space Shuttle program,[16] and the Demo-2 flight is the third trip to space for both of them. Hurley served as pilot on STS-135, thus flying on the last shuttle mission, and is piloting the first commercial crew mission. The lead Flight Director for this mission is Zebulon Scoville.[17] Additionally, the crew brought along a toy Apatosaurus dinosaur named "Tremor", a Ty flippables plush toy they had selected from their sons' toys. As in past space missions, the plush toy had been 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".[18][19]

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.[20] NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren was the sole backup crew member for the flight, backing up both Hurley and Behnken for the mission.[21]

Prime crew
Position[22] 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

Falcon 9 B1058 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.[23] 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 symbol 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.[24] 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.[25] NASA TV and media coverage of the launch was branded as "Launch America", with its own logo.[26][27]

Mission

Summary

The Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission was intended to complete the validation of crewed spaceflight operations using SpaceX hardware.[28] If successful, the demonstration flight will 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.[29] 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.[30][31] It was the first American crewed launch of a space capsule since the ASTP Apollo. The first stage booster landed autonomously on the floating barge Of Course I Still Love You, which was prepositioned in the Atlantic Ocean.[32] Docking and undocking operations were autonomously controlled by the Crew Dragon, but monitored by the flight crew in case manual intervention becomes necessary.[22] Upon returning to Earth, the Crew Dragon capsule will splash down into the Atlantic Ocean, where it will be recovered by the GO Navigator recovery vessel.[22]

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.[16] During their time aboard, Behnken is expected to conduct spacewalks with fellow American astronaut Chris Cassidy to replace batteries brought up by a Japanese cargo vehicle.[33] The HTV-9 cargo vehicle was berthed on May 25, carrying the final set of six lithium-ion batteries to replace the aging nickel-hydrogen ones.[34]

Preparations and launch

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.
US Vice President Mike Pence (left) and President Donald Trump (right) observe the launch from the ground.

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.[35][15] 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.[36][37] 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.[38] On 19 January 2020, a Crew Dragon capsule successfully completed an in-flight abort test.[39] The NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said 9 April 2020 that he is "fairly confident" that astronauts can 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 can escape major impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[40]

Tesla Model Xs' with the numberplate ISSBND (ISS bound) transport the crew to the launchpad.

On 17 April 2020, NASA and SpaceX announced the launch date as 27 May 2020.[29] 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.[29][41] 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.[42] On 1 May 2020, SpaceX successfully demonstrated the Mark 3 parachute system, a critical milestone for the mission approval.[43] Crew Dragon Demo-2 has marked the first crewed US spaceflight mission not to include the presence of the public at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46]

NASA TV coverage of the launch

Behnken and Hurley arrived at Kennedy Space Center on 20 May 2020 in preparation for the launch. On 21 May, 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.[47] The mission used a Tesla Model X to transport Hurley and Behnken to LC-39A.[48] 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.[49][50] 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.[51][52] 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,[53] and returned for launch on 30 May 2020, along with the Second Lady Karen Pence.[52][54]

The launch live stream was watched online by 3 million people on NASA feeds,[55] 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[56] in addition to an unknown number watching on television.

All attempt times in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4).

Attempt Planned Result Turnaround Reason Decision point Weather go (%) Notes
1 27 May 2020, 4:33:33 pm Scrubbed Weather 27 May 2020, 4:16 pm ​(T−16 min, 53 s hold) 50% Decision to scrub launch made just before liquid oxygen loading for second stage, due to thunderstorms and light rain in the area caused by Tropical Storm Bertha following launch commit criteria.[11]
2 30 May 2020, 3:22:45 pm Success 2 days, 22 hours, 49 minutes 70%

Orbit and docking

Endeavour approaches the ISS, prior to docking.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken revealed the name of their Crew Dragon spacecraft (capsule 206), Endeavour as these are one of the routine of every astronauts after sent to orbit, shortly after launch.[57] 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,[58] and the Apollo command and service module used for the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.[59] Hurley said that they chose Endeavour as both his and Behnken's first flights to space were on the Space Shuttle Endeavour.[6] The craft spent 19 hours in orbit as it approached the ISS. As they 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 docked with the ISS at 14:29 UTC on 31 May 2020.[6] The hatch was opened and Hurley and Behnken boarded the ISS at 18:22 UTC.[6][60][61] Hurley and Behnken joined the ISS Expedition 63 crew, which consists of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoli Ivanishin.[62] Hurley and Behnken are expected to stay on the ISS from six to sixteen weeks, depending on NASA's mission directives.[6]

Timeline

Robert Behnken enters the ISS shortly after the Crew Dragon hatch opened.
  • T+00:00 (19:22:45 UTC): the Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida.[9][63]
  • T+01:01: Max-Q was reached.[64]
  • T+02:38: MECO (main engine cutoff) occurred.[64]
  • T+02:40: Stage 1 separated from stage 2 of the rocket.[64]
  • T+07:19: Stage 1 of the rocket began its entry burn, slowing it down for entry into the atmosphere.[64]
  • T+08:50: SECO-1 (second engine cutoff 1) occurred.[64]
  • 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.[64]
  • T+09:31: Stage 1 of the rocket landed on the drone ship.[64]
  • T+12:08: Crew Dragon separated from the second stage and began a course for the International Space Station.[64]
  • T+Unknown: Crew Dragon phase burn 1
  • T+Unknown: Crew Dragon phase burn 2
  • 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+21:39:00: Hatch opening[6][60][61]
  • T+24:??:??: Bob and Doug entered ISS
  • T+?? days: ISS boost burn (minor)
  • T+?? days: Undocking
  • Undocking+1 day (?): Capsule return to Earth

Wake-up calls

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]

Flight day Song Artist Greeting Played for Links
Day 2 "Planet Caravan"[66] Black Sabbath Video

See also

References

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