SpaceX astronauts that boarded the spacecraft detail their journey on the spacecraft
SpaceX is an organization that has gained attention worldwide due to the number of historical milestones they have reached by sending spacecrafts beyond the limits of the Earth. The company recently launched a new rocket, called Crew Dragon, which opened its doors to two NASA astronauts on May 31.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were the first to fly inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first NASA astronauts to launch out of the United States in nearly ten years. Astronaut Chris Cassidy, the commander for the space station’s Expedition 63 crew, was also present. Cassidy said the Crew Dragon had a “new car smell.”
“When we got that hatch open, you could tell it was a brand new vehicle, with smiley faces on the other side, a smiley face on mine—just as if you had bought a new car, the same kind of reaction,”.Chris Cassidy
Behnken and Hurley’s mission was considered Demo-2, which is the first crewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft since the un-crewed Demo-1 mission that occurred last year.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft is autonomous, but the astronauts are able to take over manually. Behnken and Hurley practiced this while making their way to the International Space Station. Over the rest of the 19-hour flight, they slept for seven hours, practiced getting in their spacesuits, and tested out their space toilet, which they said works similar to the one in the space shuttle.
The ride went smoothly, despite a few rough patches. The two astronauts were used to the smooth ride of the space shuttle but were met with a bit of “huffing and puffing” as they ascended in the Crew Dragon.
“It was not quite the same ride, the smooth ride, as the space shuttle was up to MECO [main engine cutoff] — a little bit less g's but a little bit more alive is probably the best way I would describe it”Bob Behnken
The Crew Dragon even docked at the International Space Station so smoothly that the astronauts didn’t even feel it happen.
“The thing that really stood out to both of us, and we mentioned it as soon as we docked, is we didn't feel the docking. It was just so smooth,".Doug Hurley
Hurley and Behnken will spend between one and four months at the International Space Station, before they ride the Crew Dragon back to Earth. Upon reentering the atmosphere, Crew Dragon’s parachutes are set to deploy and they’ll land in the Atlantic Ocean. From there, a SpaceX recovery ship will be waiting to retrieve the astronauts.