They blew up the other rocket just to threaten this one into behaving. Seems to have worked!
SpaceX and NASA have finished a fine weekend's work after the Crew Dragon capsule successfully made it into orbit and docked at the International Space Station The flight and docking appear to have gone off without a hitch. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley even managed to get some sleep during their 19-hour journey …
Even then, there was the Orion capsule which was designed, built, and then launched in 2014, just without anyone on board, and it only did one orbit. I happened to be one of what I assume is a rather small number of people to see it in orbit myself in that time, living in just the right place for it at that time.
But isn’t it the first manned capsule to have been designed since the ‘70s? That’s more impressive to me than the 9 year stat that always gets bandied around.
Put it this way. It's only the 9th vehicle to have carried humans to space (and the first privately developed one).
* Soyuz (albeit various iterations/versions)
* Crew Dragon
Landing, "coming down again", isn't as easy as you'd expect. To increase your orbit you add velocity, to decrease you slow your velocity. What happens when gravity effects the rate of descent? The capsule gains velocity. "Coming down again" might actually be more difficult (relatively speaking) than going up.
in the case of a capsule, their heat shielding system is a bit different (and much simpler) than the one that failed on the space shuttle. The Space Shuttle's design had many tiles that were glued into place, and the (frequent) tile loss during launch could (and did) result in catastrophe. I think the entire heat shield is covered up during launch of the Dragon capsule and therefore it is not subject to debris or vibration damage like the Shuttle was.
It might be a good idea to park an extra Dragon or two up on the ISS for emergency departures. it can hold more people + stuff than a Soyuz, and is likely to prove itself to be extremely reliable.
Oh, and a beer for the successful launch. Cheers!
I'm not from NASA, but I believe they need to pressurise the "vestibule" (the gap between the ISS hatch and the dragon hatch) for long enough to understand the leak rate to vacuum.
The outside of the dragon hatch was in sunlight for (probably) about an hour prior to attaching to the ISS, and therefore quite hot. (could be as much as 100 to 150 degrees, even with a clever paint material.) They therefore have to pressurise the vestibule for long enough that they have ruled out any pressure changes due to the temperature dropping to something reasonable, and log data for long enough to know that there is a good enough seal between the capsule and ISS. (There will be a leak of air to space, it just has to be at a low enough rate not to worry about.)
From experience, the most likely explanation is that despite being expected and on schedule, everyone indoors was asleep and it took three hours to wake the bastards up to open the door.
They can't just drop a "sorry we missed you" card and bugger off like everyone else who finds that they're delivering to inconsiderate idiots.
I think AC has the correct detailed answer. But, speaking in general terms, I think that any time you do anything for the first time in space, no matter how certain you are that it's going to work, you do it as slowly and as accurately as you possibly can, and pause frequently to document everything. If it's mind-numbingly boring, you know you're doing it right.
First, congratulations. Beers all around, eh.
Second, not mentioned was that while traveling to the ISS they performed successful manual in flight maneuvers. These were not required but were done to test the systems for future flights.
Third, and most important, safe home. This is not as easy as some comments would suggest due to the need to survive super heating from atmospheric friction (which destroyed one shuttle) and the need for the parachutes to perform (which has been problematic in the past).
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