NASA Extends SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Astronaut Mission

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No more than a month left, and we’re going to witness how NASA and SpaceX enroll in their first astronaut mission. Both space agencies still need to check some details and establish the last phases, but they closer than ever now.

On May 27, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will get into their Crew Dragon spaceship and fly towards the ISS. During their time there, the duo will join Chris Cassidy, in managing the station as well as leading several research operations. How long will they stay there is still up in the air.

NASA had a series of briefings last week, describing the historic mission and how it would run. The precise length of the mission will be established during the astronauts’ time in space.

How Much Will NASA and SpaceX’s Astronauts Stay at the ISS?

The Demo-1 mission lifted off on March 2 last year. It was the first liftoff of a commercially built and led American spaceship and space system developed for humans as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. As for the Demo-2 mission, this is a test flight.

SpaceX and NASA will be utilizing the mission to certify the Crew Dragon for regular use to and from the ISS. During this flight, the astronauts will have to test and examine onboard systems. So, when the spacecraft has achieved its tasks successfully, it will get NASA’s certification for a crewed flight. Now, SpaceX has almost finished the development on its next Dragon vehicle.

Back to the May crewed mission, Kirk Shireman, the NASA ISS program manager, explained that the length of the Demo-2 mission was straight linked to that vehicle’s progress. He stated: “What we would like to do, from a station perspective, is to keep them on orbit as long as we can until that Crew-1 vehicle is just about ready to go, bring Demo-2 home, allow that certification work to be completed and launch Crew-1.”

The DM-2 crew would stay on orbit approximately a month, according to NASA’s deputy manager of the commercial crew program, Steve Stich. But, the maximum stay can’t be more than 119 days, due to the possible degradation of the SpaceX Dragon vehicle’s solar panels.

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