SpaceX may have Dragon spaceships in orbit without a break for a year

SpaceX is preparing to launch four NASA astronauts on its Crew Dragon spaceship this Halloween — the first of six crewed missions the space agency has contracted from the rocket company founded by Elon Musk. (The one that concluded in August was considered a demonstration.)

That’s on top of the cargo resupply missions that SpaceX will regularly launch to the International Space Station for NASA. The company has been sending a spaceship designed to carry supplies, called Cargo Dragon, to the orbiting laboratory since 2012. That vehicle has made over 20 trips to the station and back.

Combined, the two types of Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to launch into space seven times over the next 14 months.

Spacex crew dragon launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with a “Starman” dummy aboard on March 2, 2019.

NASA TV


“Every time there’s a Dragon launch, there’ll be two Dragons in space,”

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5 ways SpaceX is changing Crew Dragon flight for next NASA astronauts

  • SpaceX is set to launch four astronauts to the space station for NASA later this month.
  • After inspecting the data from its first astronaut flight, SpaceX made four big upgrades to its Crew Dragon spaceship.
  • The next capsule will have new maneuvering capabilities, a reinforced heat shield, longer-lasting solar panels, and better parachute-deployment sensors.
  • SpaceX is also promising a clearer ocean landing site without a crowd of boats.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SpaceX showed the world that its Crew Dragon can safely carry NASA astronauts to and from space this summer.

Now the company is preparing the spaceship for its biggest feat yet: routine flights to and from the International Space Station.

SpaceX’s first mission for NASA was a test flight called Demo-2. It rocketed astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into orbit, after which their Crew Dragon capsule docked to the space station. They stayed there

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Six-month mission will test limits of SpaceX Dragon, astronauts say

Astronauts make round trip to space station from U.S. soil

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley (C) waves to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Robert Behnken home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Fla,, on August 2, 2020. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts name Dragon capsule ‘Resilience’

The next astronauts who will launch on a SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station looked to the present, rather than the past or the future, to select the name for their spacecraft.

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, commander of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission to the space station, joined his three crewmates in revealing their ship’s call sign during a NASA press briefing held on Tuesday (Sept. 29).

“We’re excited about the opportunity to name our vehicle,” Hopkins said, speaking on behalf of he fellow Crew-1 astronauts, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The Crew-1 Dragon capsule, no. 207, will henceforth be known by the call sign ‘Resilience.'”

Related: A behind-the-scenes look at SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule (photos)

SpaceX’s Crew-1 astronauts, including NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins and JAXA astronaut

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Six-month mission will test limits of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, astronauts say

Astronauts make round trip to space station from U.S. soil

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley (C) waves to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Robert Behnken home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Fla,, on August 2, 2020. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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SpaceX reinforcing heat shield of its Dragon spacecraft ahead of planned October flight

He said there “was nothing to be concerned with at all times. The astronauts were safe, and the vehicle was working perfectly.” The heat shield is a vital component of the spacecraft that protects the astronauts as they plunge through the thickening atmosphere, creating temperatures that reach as high as 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to reinforcing the part of the heat shield, he said the company is refining how it measures the capsule’s altitude as it returns to Earth. During the August test flight, the drogue parachutes deployed at a slightly lower altitude than the company expected, but still well within safety parameters, he said.

Finally, SpaceX and NASA are working with the Coast Guard to create a 10-mile “keep-out zone” around the spacecraft once its splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.

During the test mission, recreational boats swarmed the vehicle, still loaded with volatile

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SpaceX improved Crew Dragon capsule for planned Oct. 31 launch

Astronauts make round trip to space station from U.S. soil

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley (C) waves to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Robert Behnken home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Fla,, on August 2, 2020. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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NASA targeting Halloween for next SpaceX Crew Dragon astronaut launch

NASA now plans to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on October 31, a Halloween flight that will mark the first operational use of the capsule following a successful piloted test flight earlier this summer.

The space agency initially targeted October 23 for the “Crew 1” mission, just nine days after the October 14 launch of two cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and two days after NASA flier Chris Cassidy and two cosmonaut crewmates return to Earth on October 21 aboard another Soyuz.

By delaying the Crew Dragon flight to October 31, the station crew and flight controllers in the U.S., Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan will get a chance to catch their collective breath while allowing additional time to resolve any open issues.

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew 1 astronauts (L-R): Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins
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NASA schedules the first Crew Dragon operational flight for Halloween

“The new target date will deconflict the Crew-1 launch and arrival from upcoming Soyuz launch and landing operations. This additional time is needed to ensure closure of all open work, both on the ground and aboard the station, ahead of the Crew-1 arrival. The increased spacing also will provide a good window of opportunity to conduct additional testing to isolate the station atmosphere leak if required. SpaceX continues to make progress on preparations of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, and the adjusted date allows the teams additional time for completing open work ahead of launch.”

The mission will take NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi, to the ISS. There will stay there for six months. SpaceX delivered the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will be used for this flight to Cape Canaveral in Florida back in August. The capsule

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NASA Sets New Date for First Operational Crew Dragon Mission

NASA has revealed a new target date for the first operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon is now set to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:40 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 31.

Previously, NASA had named October 23, 2020 as the expected launch date.

Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will be inside the Crew Dragon located atop the Falcon 9 for the Crew-1 mission. The astronauts are set to spend a period of six months living and working aboard the ISS.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist;
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