SpaceX released a video Tuesday recording the mission of Demo-2, the first flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft crew. The mission took NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Benken to and from the International Space Station and went extremely smoothly, a result that felt somewhat incompatible with this turbulent year on Earth.
“We hope it will bring some brightness to a very difficult 2020,” Hurley said at the end of the video.
Never before have the footage shown Benken and Hurley moving to the launch site at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. After giving a thumbs-up to the onlookers, the two astronauts boarded the Dragon of the crew.
“Three … two … one … ignition, takeoff,”
Once in space, Benken flips back as a stuffed dinosaur with sequins floats around the capsule. The Apatosaurus Trembling was the last of a long line of stuffed animals that astronauts brought into space as zero-gravity indicators; when the toys start to float, observers know that the ship has entered microgravity.
The video also shows the moments after Crew Dragon arrived at the space station, when the astronauts met with members of Expedition 63. The montage ends with their return to Earth: a small white capsule screams through the atmosphere, then its parachutes unfold, slowing it down slightly. splashing in the Gulf of Mexico.
You can watch the full video below:
SpaceX is learning from Demo-2 to make its next mission smoother
During the test missions, Demo-2 was remarkably trouble-free.
“The biggest surprise is that this mission was as smooth as it is,” said Gwyn Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, following the release of Benken and Hurley.
Still, the mission was not without its difficulties. For example, after the Dragon Crew landed, its pushers began to emit toxic fumes. Crowds of boats carrying tourists and onlookers also ignored commands to keep their distance.
These issues serve as training opportunities for NASA and SpaceX as they prepare for the next crew mission in their partnership, Crew-1. This is scheduled to begin at 2:40 p.m. ET on October 31st.
This crew includes NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover, as well as Japanese aerospace astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Hopkins is expected to be the commander of the mission, pilot Glover and mission specialists Walker and Noguchi.
Demo-2 astronauts have already suggested some wise words for this group. Hopkins said Hurley warned him of the shocking speed of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
His comment on the entry was, “It’s happening fast,” Hopkins said in a press briefing on Tuesday. . “
“For me, that means I have to make sure we’re ready for it as a crew,” Hopkins added. “When things happen fast, you have to anticipate.”
But minor problems and surprises aside, NASA and SpaceX officials are hoping for a repeat of Demo-2’s success later this fall.
“It would be a great mission if Crew-1 went the same way,” said Katie Luders, NASA’s chief of human spaceflight, during a briefing Tuesday. “I’m counting on a beautiful mission.”