SpaceX Dragon: Watch NASA’s astronauts give a tour of the spacecraft Endeavour
The SpaceX-built capsule safely docked to the ISS today (May 31) after blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday. At 3:21pm BST, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed the docking and welcomed “America’s two favourite dads”. The Crew Dragon, officially named Endeavour by its pilots, made history yesterday as the first private spacecraft to launch humans into orbit.
The Crew Dragon launched from the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday at 8.22pm BST, three days after bad weather scrubbed its first planned launch just 17 minutes before liftoff.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley then spent just short of 19 hours in space, before they reached the ISS.
Although the ISS, which sits 250 miles above Earth, can be reached in as little as six hours, this was the first crewed flight of the Dragon and the launch involved a number of in-orbit flight tests.
During the journey, the astronauts also took an opportunity to showcase the Dragon, giving all SpaceX and NASA fans a glimpse of what it is like to travel to the ISS.
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Since 2011, NASA has relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry crews to the ISS and back.
Compared to the cramped Soyuz, which is based on designs from the 1960s, the sleek and modern Dragon is much roomier and can carry up to seven astronauts at once.
Mr Behnken demonstrated how much room there is in the Dragon by performing a flip in the capsule, something that would have been impossible on the Soyuz.
He said: “I think I was requested to do a backflip. I’m gonna do a kind of sidespin, which is a little bit of a permutation on that request.”
During the tour, the astronauts showcased the Dragon’s futuristic touchscreen control panels and some of their functions.
We both had our first flights on shuttle Endeavour
Doug Hurley, NASA astronaut
Although the Dragon is designed to be fully autonomous, the astronauts can take over for manual control.
The astronauts showcased the spacecraft’s windows, one of which was lit filled by Earth.
Mr Behnken said: “You can see a window off to the one side, we each have a window that we can view out and see what’s going on outside.”
The astronauts also revealed why they named the spacecraft Endeavour – they both flew on NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour on their first spaceflight.
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Mr Behnken, 49, first flew on STS-123 in 2008, and Mr Hurley first flew on STS-127 in 2009.
Mr Hurley, 53, also flew the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the last ever Space Shuttle voyage, STS-135, in July 2011.
He said: “Hurley said. “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons — one because of this incredible endeavour NASA, SpaceX and the United States have been on since the end of the shuttle programme back in 2011.”
The astronaut also called the decision to name it Endeavor a personal choice.
He said: “We both had our first flights on shuttle Endeavour, and it just meant so much for us to carry on that name.”
Until 2011, NASA had the Space Shuttle, which was cancelled under George W Bush and retired under President Barack Obama.
NASA has since moved towards a private enterprise model, contracting companies like SpaceX and Boeing to build self and reliable spacecraft for orbital travel.
Both companies are developing spaceraft under the Commercial Crew contract.
Boeing is currenlty working on the CST-100 Starliner capsule.
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