Home / Science / NASA’s Dragon Riders capture the flag, nine years after it was released at the space station

NASA’s Dragon Riders capture the flag, nine years after it was released at the space station



arrives at the International Space Station On SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken wore an American flag symbolizing the US’s ability to send humans into orbit from US Earth. “data-reactid =” 23 “> One day after arriving at the International Space Station On SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken claimed an American flag symbolizing the US ability to send humans to orbit from US soil.

The handkerchief-sized flag, sealed in a plastic cover, has been kept aboard the space station since 2011, when NASA’s final spacecraft crew left it behind before boarding Atlantis.

stored in an equipment bag, almost forgotten – with instructions to return it to Earth by the next crew launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. “Data-reactid =” 25 “> It appeared above the Harmony module’s cover – and was stored for a time in an equipment bag, almost forgotten – with instructions to take it back to Earth by the next crew launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

That moment finally came on Sunday, when Hurley and Behnken floated through the Harmony hatch after their launch 19 hours earlier.

Two other angles increase the importance of the moments. The flag first flew into space on the very first flight of the space shuttle program, back in 1981. And among the crew members who left it at the station in 2011 was Hurley, who was Atlantis’ pilot then and now the spacecraft commander of the SpaceX capsule.

Hurley held out the flag when asked about it today during a spot-on-the-ground news briefing.

“We’ve talked about this flag before – many times in the last nine years since we left it here on STS-135 – and I think the important part is … just returning the launch capability to the United States to and from the International Space Station “Hurley said.” That’s what the flag really means. And I think a little more: It’s for the thousands of people who made it possible, from people on SpaceX to people on NASA, to people in the commercial crew program. We’re just lucky enough to take it home with us. “

CST-100 Starliner spaceship as an alternative trip for astronauts on their way to the space station. The commander of the shuttle mission that left the flag at the station, Chris Ferguson, is now a Boeing executive who is scheduled to be a test pilot on Starliner’s first manned flight. & Nbsp; It increased the good-natured rivalry. “Data-reactid =” 31 “> The flag was the focus of a friendly contest with Boeing, which has developed its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as an alternative trip for astronauts heading to space The commander of the shuttle mission that left the flag at the station , Chris Ferguson, is now a Boeing executive who is scheduled to be a test pilot on Starliner’s first crew flight, which increased the good-natured rivalry.

went wrong last December, which made SpaceX and its Crew Dragon the clear favorite. After the Crew Dragon lift up on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, Ferguson tweeted& nbsp; that he was “proud to give the title” The last commander of an American-launched spaceship “to Hurley.” data-reactid = “32”> For a while, the race to catch the flag seemed to be a nuisance – but when Starliner’s non-screwed test flight failed last December, SpaceX and its Crew Dragon became the clear favorite. After Crew Dragon lifted up on top of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, Ferguson tweeted that he was “proud to give Hurley the title of” The Last Commander of an American Launched Spaceship “.

tweet from 2011 notes that SpaceX “began to capture the sequence of the flag.” “data-reactid =” 33 “> SpaceX CEO Elon Musk joined the repartee and resurrected a tweet from 2011 notes that SpaceX “began to capture the sequence of the flag.”

Hurley joked that the space station commander, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, attached a tag to the flag where he said, “Don’t forget to bring the Crew Dragon.”

“Depending on how long we stay up here, you can bet we take it with us when we go back to earth,” Hurley said.

It can be as little as six weeks, or as long as four months. NASA is still assessing how long the mission will last based on the space station’s need for power. Right now, the crew consists of the three Americans and two Russian cosmonauts, a person who is shy about the usual complement of sex.

delivered to the space station on a Japanese HTV robot cargo a week ago. Among the payloads on HTV are six replacement batteries that will be installed on the outside of the space station during a series of space walks. Behnken, who conducted a total of six spacewalks during two shuttle flights, has been trained to assist Cassidy with the battery replacement job. “Data-reactid =” 38 “> Cassidy said one of the first business orders will unload lots of supplies that were delivered to the space station on a Japanese HTV robot ship a week ago. Among the payloads on HTV are six replacement batteries that will be installed on The space station outside during a series of space walks Behnken, who conducted a total of six space walks during two shuttle flights, has been trained to assist Cassidy with the battery change job.

Another major task is to test the Crew Dragon in different modes of operation, which include checking communications configurations with the space station, testing different power-up and power-down modes, and ensuring that the spaceship is ready to function as a lifeboat in the event of a space station emergency.

Behnken acknowledged that it is not strange to know exactly when he and Hurley will return to earth. But he said the uncertainty is not such a big burden for him – or for his 6-year-old son.

“He’s just excited that we’re going to have a dog when I get home, so he accepted that uncertainty and [is] continues to send messages to me while I’m on the track, “Behnken said.

potentially as early as 2023. And who knows? In the coming years, it may be suspended in spacecraft carrying astronauts to the lunar and Mars surface. “Data-reactid =” 46 “> Although Behken’s first Dragon tour will end when he and Hurley splash in the Atlantic this summer, the US flag will have much longer to go. NASA says it plans to send the flag back into space when the Artemis 2 crew goes on a moon tour of its Orion deep space capsule, potentially as early as 2023 … And who knows? In the coming years, it could be hung in spaceships carrying astronauts to the moon and Mars surface.

  • Cassidy agreed with an inquiring reporter that Crew Dragon has a “new car smell” when looking through the space station hatch. “You could say it was a whole new vehicle, with smiling faces on the other side and smiling faces on mine, just as if you had bought a new car,” he said.
  • Behnken said the fact that the Crew Dragon’s Falcon 9 rocket was loaded with fuel while the astronauts were in the canister meant that there were sounds and vibrations that the shuttle astronauts would not have experienced before the flight. To familiarize yourself with the sounds of fuel and venting, the astronauts listened to recordings made during the build-up to last year’s uncontrolled test flight of the Crew Dragon. They also listened to recordings of the sounds they could expect to hear upon re-entry – which Behnken said was “extremely helpful.”
  • In advance of the flight, neither NASA nor SpaceX said much about the toilet installed aboard the Crew Dragon. But in response to a question today, Hurley said: “It works very much like the one we were used to in the space shuttle, and it worked very well. We had no problems with that. “For what it’s worth, the space shuttle toilet used a differential air pressure to suck away waste, but it was also important for astronauts to practice their target.
  • More from GeekWire:




    Source link