NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Astronauts Headed to International Space Station

A collaboration between NASA and SpaceX made history on November 15th by partnering with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 is comprised of an international team of four astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi. Hopkins, Glover, and Walker are a part of NASA while Noguchi is from JAXA. The spacecraft is incorporated of Crew Dragon (the capsule and trunk) and Falcon 9 (the rocket). After the first and second stage is completed by the rocket, Falcon 9 will split from Dragon. The astronauts also provided the name of Resilience to the capsule Dragon.

The Crew-1 members will be going to the International Space Station (ISS) while collecting scientific information and upkeeping maintenance for a duration of six months. This makes Crew-1 the first continuous mission to the ISS for six months.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew -1 has made history in having numerous firsts additionally encompassed of:

  •       NASA’s first certified commercial spacecraft system for humans
  •       The first American commercial spacecraft to lift off an international team of four members into space
  •       The Federal Aviation Administration approved its first human orbital spaceflight launch license
  •       ISS crew capacity for extended length expeditions will grow from six to seven members which have not been done before
  •       The first astronaut, from the alliance of JAXA with NASA and SpaceX, to join the ISS project
  •       Crew-1 is the first of six different missions included in the Commercial Crew Program that has been planned by NASA and SpaceX

Upon arrival at the ISS, the Dragon team will merge with another crew called the Expedition 64. This new group consists of three astronauts. Two are from the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Sergey Ryzhikov (the Commander), and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov (a Flight Engineer). The other member, Kate Rubins, is from NASA and she another Flight Engineer.

Members of Crew-1

The Commander of the Crew Dragon and mission is Hopkins. He oversees everything encompassing flight launch and re-entry. During his stay on the ISS, Hopkins will be a Flight Engineer.

The second in charge of the mission is Glover, who pilots the space shuttle. He also keeps track of the functions and operations of the whole spacecraft. This is his first time in space, but his naval aviator skills have been tested and approved. Once abroad the ISS, he will take on the role of a Flight Engineer.

Aboard the shuttle, there are two Mission Specialists: Walker and Noguchi. They will both watch over the shuttle during the launch and re-entry phases of the mission. Mission Specialist works closely with both the Commander and the pilot. Their role during the flight entails monitoring timelines, telemetry, and consumables. Like Hopkins and Glover, both Walker and Noguchi will also be a Flight Engineer once the crew reaches their destination.

Mission Responsibilities

Crew Dragon will be bringing lots of new cargo of equipment and samples for conducting scientific experiments. The team will assist and conduct multiple different studies that will be tested on the ISS. The microgravity experiments that incorporate Crew-1 will involve:

  •       Food Physiology: investigates how astronauts can improve their health while in orbital space to help maintain the immune system of current and future crew members
  •       Genes in Space-7: a study that focuses on the effect of brain function during flights and space to keep scientists in maximum performing condition for the prolonged-time period of the mission
  •       Plant Habitat-02: an experiment that aims to grow radishes in diverse types of soil and light inside an Advanced Plant Habitat to see what works best with the factor conditions of different gravity and atmospheric levels compared to Earths

o   Picking radishes was not by accident, these vegetables grow quickly and can help scientists with their studies while also being nourishing

  •       Tissue Chips: a study that uses small devices that includes a simulation that illustrates the operations of human cells and organs to see how it would react to drugs, genetic changes, and stress factors to try and improve overall health back on Earth

o   Cardinal Heart: heart cells are affected by microgravity, to determine how to predict who has the potential to have these heart risks before going into space scientists use tissue chips to experiment on cardiovascular tissue and this research could also help develop more ways to treat, recognize, and offer countermeasures for cardiovascular diseases

  •       Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment (SERFE): a new type of spacesuit to regulate the temperature inside the suit, Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), will be tested to see if the Water Membrane Evaporator will effectively eliminate heat by evaporating water into space to help future astronauts stay appropriately insulated

Crew Dragon has more responsibilities than just experiments, they must also supervise over two uncrewed spacecraft and perform multiple spacewalks. The two uncrewed spacecraft are the Northrop Grumman Cygnus and Boeing CST-100 Starliner. The Northrop Grumman Cygnus is a commercial resupply craft to restock on supplies that the whole ISS will need. Boeing CST-100 Starliner is the fourth Commercial Crew Program mission, out of the 6 planned, to go to the ISS. This craft is conducting a test flight to the station and back to make sure everything runs smoothly before the actual mission begins.

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