SpaceX's Crew Dragon Become First Private Spacecraft to Launch from NASA on ISS Mission
A historical event will take place on November 14, 2020 as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying a four-people crew to the International Space Station (ISS) on a six-month-long mission.
The Dragon capsule was just certified by NASA on November 10 along with the Falcon 9 rocket. One might wonder ISS missions have existed for decades, why is this historical? The Crew Dragon is the first ever spacecraft certification given by NASA, making it the only private agency that can make regular flights to the ISS.
The Elon Musk company, SpaceX and aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, were picked to develop space-transport systems in 2014 by NASA. The agency wanted them to ferry astronauts from USA to the ISS.
NASA recently uploaded the crew-members details and photographs to their website. They are American Astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover from NASA and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The capsule will take four but the ISS crew can be of seven. The number helps maximize time dedicated to scientific research on the orbiting laboratory, according to NASA.
NASA announced Commercial Crew Program to help make space more accessible and cost effective. They wanted to transport astronauts (and cargo) to and from space easily and frequently for “greater scientific research.”
The Crew 1 mission will take the four astronauts up to the ISS where they will join the Expedition 64 crew members. It will be the first operational space flight from the American soil since NASA’s conclusion of space shuttle era in 2011. Additionally, it is also the first SpaceX mission out of a total three scheduled for the coming year.
What happens at the ISS?
The first ISS mission was a Soyuz spacecraft in October, 2000 lifted from Kazakhstan. Now two decades (and many dozens of expeditions) later, the American mission will actually be launched from America for the very first time.
The collective team of Crew 1 and Expedition 64 will be conducting micro-gravity experiments as well as work with the latest hardware that the Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry to them. They are carrying equipment to explore food physiology to understand effects of diet and nutrients on overall immunity as well as study how gut microbiome improvements can help crews adapt better to spaceflight.
As one would assume, life in space is vastly different than Earth in terms of diet, exercise, and even daily activities like showering or internal bodily functions. NASA astronaut Glover will be responsible for collecting data with the above mentioned functions and relay them to scientists back on Earth who will study these factors and their effects.
The second experiment is actually a student-designed project to measure the effects of spaceflight on brain function. Additionally, multiple studies about how liquid, rocks and microorganisms physically interact; another study about effects of microgravity on human health, heart specifically, will be conducted on-board the ISS.