Only a few reporters got access to the Hawthorne, California headquarters on 13 August to check out the new SpaceX spacesuit and spaceship.
Elon Musk’s aerospace company builds the Crew Dragon capsule for their Commercial Crew Program, and it will be used by NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing is also part of the program, designing a capsule called CST-100 Starliner.
The program was launched in 2010 when NASA retired their space shuttle fleet with the intention of replacing it with American spacecraft developed by private companies.
Both SpaceX and Boeing plan to begin crewed launches in 2019, but SpaceX might by the first one to send the first astronauts to the ISS, considering that Boeing has some issues with the leaky fuel valves on their CST-100 Starliner.
The SpaceX Simulator
Among the lucky reporters that climbed the nearly-exact copy of Crew Dragon, there were journalists from Spaceflight Now, The Beach Reporter and more – each tweeting photographs and footage from the headquarters, providing some details on the interior of the mock-up capsule and the amazing spacesuit.
The mockup capsule is identical to the one that will be used by astronauts to fly towards the ISS. Inside the capsule, there is a simulator which is used by astronauts that were chosen for the crewed mission.
SpaceX first has to pass an uncrewed test flight and then two crewed test flights. If everything goes well, NASA will certify the capsule for routine flights.
The reclining seats, which one journalist reported to be tight, are positioned this way to help the human body withstand the forces experienced at launch and landing.
Inside the capsule, all controls and gear work so that astronauts can train for the future flights. Stephen Clark (Spaceflight Now) even saw the toilet in the capsule – which is covered by a privacy curtain!
Sleek and Functional Space(X)suits
As for the spacesuits for the astronauts, they look incredibly sleek. David Rosenfeld (The Beach Reporter) said that the suit “is made from Nomex, a fire retardant fabric similar to Kevlar, a bleached variant of Teflon and leather.”
SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 rocket for the first crewed test flights in February 2019. The astronauts for this mission are veterans Robert Behnken and Doug “Chunky” Hurley. The second test mission will have NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins later in 2019.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.