SpaceX Crew Dragon Returned Home After A Six-Day Test Flight

SpaceX launched the first Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 2 and the mission ended on March 8 when the …
SpaceX Crew Dragon Returned Home After A Six-Day Test Flight

The capsule built to carry humans returned home last week from a successful first flight

SpaceX launched the first Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 2 and the mission ended on March 8 when the capsule splashed down into the Atlantic. The flight, called Demo-1, was uncrewed, but since the mission was a success it’s next mission will be to carry astronauts to and from the orbiting lab for the first time this summer.

When the capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean about 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral in Florida after a six-hour flight from the space laboratory, a recovery ship called GO Searcher retrieved it from the water and successfully returned it to Port Canaveral. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated:

“Today’s successful re-entry and recovery of the Crew Dragon capsule after its first mission to the International Space Station marked another important milestone in the future of human spaceflight. I want to once again congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams on an incredible week. Our Commercial Crew Program is one step closer to launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I am proud of the great work that has been done to get us to this point.”

The astronauts now on board the ISS, Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques, and Oleg Kononenko, were able to see the SpaceX capsule in microgravity while it was docked at the station this week. Moreover, a final test on Crew Dragon’s emergency abort system is scheduled for June, and the first crewed mission is set for July, carrying American astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. It will be a 14 day mission to the ISS called Demo-2. If it will also be successful, the Crew Dragon is planned to carry up to seven astronauts at a time back and forth to the ISS.

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins who will crew SpaceX first operational mission to the space station following Demo-2 said: “For the first time, we’ve gotten to see an end-to end test, and so now we’ve brought together the people, the hardware and all the processes and procedures, and we’ve gotten to see how they all work together, and that’s very important as we move toward putting people onboard.”

SpaceX is known to have spaceflight ambitions beyond the ISS. It wants to develop a massive spaceship and rocket system, Starship and Super Heavy, that Elon Musk wants to use to colonize Mars and explore deep space with. He also stated that Starship could conduct short test flights this year and soon the prototype vehicle will mate with its engine. Benji Reed, Director of Crew Mission Management at SpaceX declared his excitement about the recent Crew Dragon success:

“I can’t believe how well the whole mission has gone. I think on every point, everything’s been nailed, all the way along – particularly this last piece. We were all very excited to see re-entry and parachute and drogue deploy and main deploy, splashdown – everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way we expected it to. It was beautiful.”

Post Views: 4
Share

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

SpaceX’s Elon Musk says Raptor will be installed on Starship prototype this week

Speaking on Friday, March 8th, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that the company’s second completed Raptor engine was already “on [its] way to …

Speaking on Friday, March 8th, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that the company’s second completed Raptor engine was already “on [its] way to [Star]hopper” to – nominally – be installed on the prototype vehicle as early as the week of March 11th (this week).

According to an official SpaceX statement, once Raptor is installed on Starhopper, the integrated vehicle will perform a combination of ground systems testing, propellant loading, static fire tests, and low-altitude hover demonstrations to prove out the brand new vehicle, engine, and facilities. Prior to the final months of 2018, the build site, launch pad, and prototype Starship now preparing for imminent hop tests were little more than empty dirt lots on the southern tip of the Texas coast.

Raptor on way to Hopper. Will be mounted to vehicle next week.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2019

“SpaceX will conduct checkouts of the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the days ahead,” he said. “Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights, or hops, powered by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be tethered during initial testing and hops will not be visible from offsite. SpaceX will establish a safety zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement and signage will be in place to alert the community prior to the testing.” – James Gleeson, March 8th, SpaceX

Prior to February 3rd, barely one month ago, SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine had yet to even ignite in its final(ish), full-scale form. Less than two weeks after that, SpaceX’s propulsion team had pushed the engine to the point of damage, quite possibly throttling it above its nominal max thrust and main combustion chamber pressures. According to Musk, Raptor serial number 2 (SN02) will feature moderate changes to mitigate the cause of that damage.

Along the path to hop tests, it’s unclear if Raptor SN02 – following the mild problems more or less intentionally forced upon its predecessor – will be test-fired at SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas development facilities before heading south to be installed on Starhopper. Given SpaceX’s methodical approach to engine and vehicle testing prior to the launch of any of its rockets, chances are good that it will have already conducted a number of basic acceptance tests in McGregor. If Musk is to be taken literally, the second flightworthy engine may already be in Boca Chica, although it’s more likely that it’s simply close to shipping there from either Hawthorne or McGregor.

Meanwhile, in Boca Chica, humans are preparing to feed the Starship Hopper at the launch site. Doesn’t have a Raptor yet, but that’ll soon change. Then some fun with tethered training hops!

📸NSF’s BocaChicaGal here..https://t.co/5vehQHuDekpic.twitter.com/Pux2aDdJMX

— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) March 10, 2019

It has not yet been confirmed if Starhopper will initially perform static fire and hop tests with just one Raptor installed, but the sheer power of the fairly compact engine (upwards of 200 metric tons or 450,000 lbf of thrust at full throttle) should more than enable an extremely heavy prototype to lift off even with 50+ metric tons of propellant onboard. While it could simply be a matter of convenience and efficiency to start integrated Starhopper testing immediately instead of waiting for the completion of additional Raptor engines, the process of testing a thrust structure or integrated rocket with an increasing number of engines installed is a relatively common practice in aerospace. Regardless of its history, SpaceX itself also began its first integrated testing of a Falcon 9 first stage in the same way, starting with one Merlin engine installed and ultimately graduating to 3, 5, and the final 9 engines over the course of a few months of testing.

SpaceX moved its massive Starship prototype from build site to launch pad on March 8th, paving the way for the imminent beginning of static fires and tethered hop tests. (NASASpaceflight – bocachicagal)

While Starhopper is unlikely to need more than a handful of Raptor engines to exhaust its usefulness, the first orbital Starship prototype – and, even more so, the first Super Heavy booster – will almost certainly end up going through the same process of methodical hot-fire testing before SpaceX even thinks of attempting the first orbital BFR launch. Featuring 7 and 31 Raptors respectively, Starship and Super Heavy will radically push the envelope of both SpaceX’s own experience and the aerospace industry as a whole, potentially becoming the most powerful liquid rocket ever launched if or when the vehicle begins flight tests with both stages.

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Tethered test flights to begin in days ahead at Boca Chica Beach

About the same time Friday morning that SpaceX’s unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully splashed down in the Atlantic after a trip to the …
2019-03-08_SpaceX_LEAD.jpg

Miguel Roberts

2019-03-08_SpaceX_LEAD.jpg

SpaceX crew move their Starship Hopper prototype from thier construction site to the launch site at Boca Chica Beach Friday as workers are seen at the site as construction continues where a future launch has been planned for 2019

2019-03-08_SpaceX_2.jpg

Miguel Roberts

2019-03-08_SpaceX_2.jpg

Large liquid nitrogen tanks are seen at the SpaceX launch site Friday at Boca Chica Beach.

2019-03-08_SpaceX_3.jpg

Miguel Roberts

2019-03-08_SpaceX_3.jpg

SpaceX crew have moved their Starship Hopper prototype from thier construction site to the launch site at Boca Chica Beach Friday as workers are seen at the site where a future launch will take place.

2019-03-08_SpaceX_4.jpg

Miguel Roberts

2019-03-08_SpaceX_4.jpg

A view of SpaceX launch site Friday afternoon with thier prototype rocket on standby.

2019-03-08_SpaceX_5.jpg

Miguel Roberts

2019-03-08_SpaceX_5.jpg

A view of SpaceX launch site Friday afternoon with thier prototype rocket on standby from Boca Chica Beach.

Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 12:54 pm

Tethered test flights to begin in days ahead at Boca Chica BeachBY STEVE CLARK STAFF WRITER Brownsville Herald

About the same time Friday morning that SpaceX’s unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully splashed down in the Atlantic after a trip to the International Space Station, the booster portion of SpaceX’s Starship Hopper prototype was being moved from the construction site at Boca Chica Beach to the launch pad.

SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said in an email that the Starship prototype was moved to the launch pad in preparation for testing, though the public won’t be able to see the first tests.

“ SpaceX will conduct checkouts of the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the days ahead,” he said. “Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights, or hops, powered by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be tethered during initial testing and hops will not be visible from offsite. SpaceX will establish a safety zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement and signage will be in place to alert the community prior to the testing.”

Friday morning marked the first successful mission of the four-seater Crew Dragon, which SpaceX designed to carry NASA astronauts to the ISS.

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

Posted in Local News on Saturday, March 9, 2019 12:54 pm.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

SpaceX’s Starship prototype moved to launch pad on new rocket transporter

Over the last two or so weeks, SpaceX engineers and technicians have continued to make progress on the company’s first full-scale Starship prototype …

Over the last two or so weeks, SpaceX engineers and technicians have continued to make progress on the company’s first full-scale Starship prototype, intended to support experimental suborbital hop tests as early as March or April.

That work reached a peak on March 8th when the massive Starhopper was transported from build site to launch pad on a brand new transporter that was delivered and assembled barely 48 hours prior. Ahead of the suborbital prototype’s move, work has been ongoing to construct a replacement fairing for the partial-fidelity vehicle, although there is a chance that the new BFR-related stainless steel sections being assembled could be the start of the first orbital Starship prototype.

Space X Boca Chica Site Aerial Photography Update March 03, 2019 @elonmusk@SpaceX 🚀#SpaceX#starhopper#Bocachicapic.twitter.com/lKLHnlOdWr

— RGVAerialPhotography (@RGVaerialphotos) March 3, 2019

Required after improper planning destroyed Starship’s original nosecone (or fairing) when it broke free from its insufficient moorings during high coastal winds, the replacement has sprouted from sheets of metal into a far more substantial structure in barely two weeks. Designed as two integral parts of a suborbital Starship prototype, the upper section (i.e. fairing, nosecone, etc.) is predominately a passive aerodynamic structure with no major active functions, thankfully meaning that the first article’s accidental destruction was a relatively minor loss.

Starship test flight rocket just finished assembly at the @SpaceX Texas launch site. This is an actual picture, not a rendering. pic.twitter.com/k1HkueoXaz

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 11, 2019

In fact, it’s entirely possible that the fairing’s demise has had a minimal impact on the commencement of hop tests, and may have even been a net-good for the program given some visible differences between Starship fairings #1 and #2. Despite the fact that the first fairing was destroyed in late January and a comment from CEO Elon Musk indicating that it would trigger a delay of a few weeks, SpaceX did not begin to assemble its replacement until February 21st, a full month later. Over the course of those 30 or so days, the company’s propulsion team simultaneously began hot-fire tests of the first full-scale Raptor engine, ramped thrust and chamber pressure from roughly 40 to 100 percent, and ultimately pushed the engine to the point of damage around the second week of February.

Work on the primary structure of the Starship prototype also proceeded apace, fleshing out the brute-force steel vehicle with the beginnings of serious avionics and plumbing and more or less completing the structure of its liquid oxygen and methane propellant tanks. SpaceX workers also rapidly expanded and built-out Starship’s prospective hop test launch pad just a few thousand feet distant, installing tank farms, piping, water deluge hardware, and building an actual concrete ‘pad’ with umbilical connection ports and attachment points for the ship’s three fin-legs.

On March 7th, Starhopper’s replacement fairing was lifted onto a concrete work stand, where curved sections will begin to be attached. (NASASpaceflight – bocachicagal)

Welding and assembly of the replacement nosecone began around February 21st, rapidly growing from a few sheets of steel to a nearly-complete barrel section measuring about 9m tall and 9m in diameter (30ft x 30ft). Intriguingly, the new fairing appears to be a significant departure from the structural composition of its predecessor, utilizing far thicker sheets of stainless steel joined by uninterrupted width and lengthwise welds. Compared to the first fairing’s dependence on extremely thin (nearly foil-like) steel sheets and a separate internal framework of metal bars, Starship fairing V2 appears to be easily capable of standing under its own weight and then some. While largely passive, it’s likely that once the structure is complete, some level of additional avionics (and perhaps cold or hot-gas maneuvering thrusters) will be installed inside.

Heres a close up of the launch site. pic.twitter.com/Q32SHjUH8F

— RGVAerialPhotography (@RGVaerialphotos) March 4, 2019

U-Crawl

Keeping in the practice of dramatically lowering costs by prioritizing consumer off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware solutions wherever possible, SpaceX has purchased or leased a quartet of (likely used) crawlers for the purpose of transporting Starship between the company’s South Texas build, launch, and landing sites. Built by a European conglomerate known TII Group and owned by US-based Roll Group, SpaceX’s four crawlers – coupled to form a duo of larger crawlers – should be more than capable of transporting anywhere from 500t to 1000t or more, easily supporting Starhopper and/or Starships and Super Heavy boosters.

SpaceX accepted delivery of a quarter of crawlers on March 6th and immediately coupled them and began installing massive steel beams to form a Starship transporter. (NASASpaceflight – bocachicagal)

Rather than spending huge amounts of money to develop or contract out a custom-designed crawler or transporter solution for BFR, SpaceX appears to have simply purchased off-the-shelf hardware and affixed them with heavy steel structures capable of securing and supporting Starhopper during transport. Within 24 hours of the crawler arrivals, those beams were installed and the transporter had been moved underneath Starhopper and attached to it before quite literally jacking the massive ship off the ground, allowing technicians to weld additional structures to the tips of its three legs.

The latest addition to SpaceX’s fleet of rocket transporters, March 6th. (NASASpaceflight – bocachicagal)

Last but not least…

Perhaps most curious of all, Starhopper’s replacement fairing was recently joined by the start of work on a separate barrel section that appears to be nearly identical. Assuming the presumed fairing is, in fact, a fairing-to-be, the combined height of the two barrel sections would already make it significantly taller than the original nosecone, and the beginning of the conical taper has yet to appear on either assembly. This could generally mean one of two things. First, the new fairing could make Starhopper much taller than its short-lived predecessor. Second, SpaceX could be planning to begin (or even complete) hop tests without a fairing, in which case the presumed fairing and its slightly younger twin could actually be the beginning of a higher-fidelity Starhopper or even the orbital Starship prototype hinted at by Musk earlier this year.

While far less likely than the first option, the latter alternative is further supported by the fact that visible work has begun on some sort of tapered or curved steel complements to the new sections in work. While they certainly could be the beginning of the fairing’s tapered cone, the latest segments only loosely resemble the start of a gradual curve. Instead, they look similar to the steel segments of several giant tank domes that were assembled, welded, and installed inside Starhopper last month.

One of the latest curved sections of welded steel, March 7th. (NASASpaceflight – bocachicagal
Meanwhile, giant 9m-diameter tank domes are being assembled and welded together a few hundred feet away from Starhopper. (NSF – bocachicagal)

On March 8th, SpaceX began the transport of its first full-scale Starship prototype at the same time as CEO Elon Musk indicated that the first flightworthy Raptor(s) would be delivered to South Texas and installed on the hop test article as early as next week (March 11-17). It’s now looking increasingly likely that any replacement fairing that may or may not be under construction might not be ready for installation on Starhopper before SpaceX begins integrated static-fire tests and maybe even low-altitude tethered hop tests.

“SpaceX will conduct checkouts of the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the days ahead,” he said. “Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights, or hops, powered by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be tethered during initial testing and hops will not be visible from offsite. SpaceX will establish a safety zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement and signage will be in place to alert the community prior to the testing.” – James Gleeson, March 8th, SpaceX

pic.twitter.com/o6F0hhfme2

— SPadre (@SpacePadreIsle) March 8, 2019

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Construction at SpaceX Boca Chica Site Continues to Progress

BOCA CHICA – The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is coming back to Earth after spending the last four days at the International Space Station.

BOCA CHICA – The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is coming back to Earth after spending the last four days at the International Space Station.

There is no word on when the test flight for the Space X Starship Hopper will happen, but construction at the Boca Chica site is progressing.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk took to social media in January to announce the test flight would happen in late February to early March.

Winter Texan Doug Olafson was looking forward to this during his trip to the Rio Grande Valley from Canada.

“It was kind of exciting this year because they were going to have the blast off and we thought, ‘We’re going to see this,” but then we saw it topple over,” says Olafson.

A Boca Chica Village resident says she walks over to the site several times a day to document the progress.

She says this Starship prototype looks much sturdier than the one that toppled over and is confident that she’s documenting history in the making.

Musk has focused on the test launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which is expected to leave the International Space Station Friday morning.

For more information, watch the video above.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts