SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is doing its best on orbit to give NASA confidence that the mission can successfully last until August 2020.
According to an agency official, NASA had been monitoring the health of the spacecraft since its liftoff on May 30. Here are the latest details.
Crew Dragon Might Stay in Orbit Until the End of the Summer
NASA had not established a length for the the Demo-2 mission. According to the acting associate administrator for human exploration and operation at NASA, Ken Bowersox, they monitored the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s health since the May 30 launch.
“The Dragon is doing very well, so we think it’s reasonable for the crew to stay up there a month or two,” detailed Bowersox.
NASA explained before the liftoff of Demo-2 that the spacecraft was rated to last in orbit up to 119 days. Such a thing could be possible with the performance of its solar arrays, the limiting factor.
Jim Bridenstine, the NASA’s administrator, stated that NASA was targeting the end of the summer (August 30) for the liftoff of the first fully operational Crew Dragon mission, dubbed Crew-1, and thus would intend to bring the Demo-2 spacecraft back almost a month before that liftoff. The space agency plans to do such a thing to offer enough time to re-examine the spacecraft and officially certify Crew Dragon for utilization on routine crew rotation missions.
NASA’s initial plan for the Demo-2 mission was for it to be a short flight of about two weeks. The space agency, however, decided to increase it to approach a shortfall in crew time on the International Space Station (ISS). Only three people (one NASA astronaut, Chris Cassidy) were on the ISS when the Demo-2 lifted off on May 30.
A prolonged stay would allow Cassidy and Behnken – experienced spacewalkers – to perform a lot of spacewalks to replace the batteries in the station’s power system.
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