Figure 1: SpaceX manned dragon spacecraft completed its final test in February before its first manned launch
NASA has revealed that astronauts assigned to the first manned mission of the U.S. space-exploration technology company SpaceX are undergoing additional training for much longer training time and expected mission time than originally planned.
According to the plan, NASA will deliver two astronauts to the international space station (ISS) by late April or may 2020. The mission, called demo-2, will be the first manned launch in the 18 year history of SpaceX. As previously reported, demo-2 will also mark the first time in history that a private company has built a spacecraft to try to put humans into orbit.
Nevertheless, NASA has funded the development of the manned dragon spacecraft (and its rival Boeing starliner), not to achieve these firsts, but to restore the ability of the United States to send its astronauts to the international space station. According to the plan, the manned test flight of the manned dragon spacecraft and Starline spacecraft used by demo-2 will last one to two weeks in name, and then send the astronauts back to earth, which is a comprehensive end-to-end test for these two extremely complex vehicles.
However, for these astronauts, two weeks is not enough time for them to become full members of the space station, which is usually required by the international space station. In response, NASA is seriously considering extending Boeing's manned test flight, recently suggesting a similar upgrade to SpaceX's demo-2 test flight.
About a month ago, SpaceX and NASA first publicly discussed the possibility that the first launch of a manned dragon carrier would last longer, which could extend the astronauts "stay at the station from about a week to 1.5 to three months. That would allow American astronauts - Bob
Tech reporter Eric
Indeed, the extension of the test time for astronauts aboard the manned dragon would make it almost exactly the same as the actual flight, i.e., the manned dragon would take the astronauts to the space station for about six months and eventually return them to Earth at the end of the mission. More importantly, however, NASA decided to extend
If NASA wants to remain in full and uninterrupted presence at the International Space Station for the next 12 to 24 months due to years of delays by SpaceX and Boeing, it may now have to buy more seats on the Russian Soyuz launch. Boeing's starliners are unlikely to be ready to launch astronauts any time soon after suffering countless deeply worrying software glitches in its first orbital launch.
At the same time, while SpaceX is closer than ever to its first manned launch, the manned dragon is unlikely to support the delivery of three NASA astronauts to the international space station alone as the Starline solves the problem.
In view of this, NASA is trying its best to find opportunities to squeeze more on orbit time in next year's existing astronaut missions, and the test flights of both the manned dragon spacecraft and the Starline spacecraft are excellent opportunities. NASA's Johnson Space Center has confirmed that benken and Hurley have carried out additional training needed to extend their flight, and it is likely that both astronauts will be ready for a month or several missions when SpaceX is ready to launch. (reviewed by Tencent technology / Jinlu)