Astronauts have a shock title for his or her Crew Dragon spacecraft – Spaceflight Now


The Crew Dragon spacecraft sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket on pad 39A on the Kennedy House Heart. Credit score: SpaceX

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken plan to disclose a reputation for his or her Crew Dragon spaceship on the day they launch from the Kennedy House Heart in Florida, reclaiming a practice that dates again to the daybreak of the House Age.

Hurley and Behnken are getting ready for launch on a check flight to revive orbital human spaceflight functionality to the US.

The crew members haven’t disclosed the title for his or her spacecraft but. The astronauts stated Friday they are going to announce it on launch day.

“We now have to avoid wasting suspense for the mission itself,” Behnken stated throughout the crew’s remaining pre-launch press convention. “However we do have a reputation, and we are going to break it out appropriately. We’ve obtained one thing so that you can sit up for on launch day.”

Hurley and Behnken are gearing as much as launch on the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s first mission with astronauts. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT) Wednesday from pad 39A on the Kennedy House Heart in Florida, climate allowing.

The custom of getting NASA astronauts title their spaceships dates again to the Mercury program.

The unique Mercury astronauts named their capsules earlier than they flew into area. Alan Shepard, the primary American in area in Could 1961, named his spacecraft Freedom 7, and John Glenn christened his capsule Friendship 7 earlier than he got here the primary American to orbit the Earth in February 1962.

Astronaut Gus Grissom named his Mercury capsule Liberty Bell 7, recognizing the craft’s bell form. The Liberty Bell 7 capsule sunk within the Atlantic Ocean after splashdown on Grissom’s suborbital flight in July 1961, main Grissom to call the Gemini spacecraft on his subsequent mission Molly Brown, a lighthearted reference to the Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

The play, and a associated 1964 movie, inform a fictionalized story of the lifetime of Margaret Brown, who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

NASA managers didn’t allow astronauts to call their spacecraft for the remainder of the Gemini program, however crews picked up the follow once more throughout the Apollo moon missions. The moon touchdown flights included two spacecraft — an Apollo command module and a lunar lander — and mission management wanted radio name indicators for every car.

The Apollo 9 crew, which examined the lunar module in Earth orbit, named their command module Gumdrop, and the lunar module Spider. Apollo 10 flew with the command module Charlie Brown, and the lunar module Snoopy.

Most famously, astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission named their spacecraft Columbia and Eagle.

NASA named the area shuttle orbiters after essential ships of exploration and scientific discovery, and astronauts used these names as name indicators throughout shuttle flights.

Dragon spacecraft commander Doug Hurley and joint operations commander Bob Behnken pose at launch pad 39A Saturday throughout a gown rehearsal for his or her launch scheduled Could 27. Credit score: NASA/Kim Shiflett

With the resumption of crewed missions into orbit from U.S. soil for the primary time because the shuttle’s retirement in 2011, NASA astronauts are once more selecting names for his or her spacecraft. SpaceX and Boeing received NASA contracts in 2014 to develop the Crew Dragon and Starliner spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the Worldwide House Station, and SpaceX’s industrial spaceship is able to fly crews first.

NASA astronaut Suni Williams in December named considered one of Boeing’s reusable Starliner spacecraft Calypso after it landed following an unpiloted check flight. On the time, Williams was assigned to command the identical capsule on its subsequent mission to the Worldwide House Station.

However Boeing has shuffled its spacecraft assignments after saying plans to fly a second unpiloted Starliner demonstration mission. The primary check flight in December suffered from a number of issues, together with an error in its mission elapsed timer that prevented the capsule from docking with the area station.

Boeing’s different reusable Starliner crew module was initially assigned to the corporate’s first crewed check flight, however now it should launch this fall on the redo of the automated demonstration mission, based on a Boeing spokesperson. The Calypso spacecraft, which flew in December, is being refurbished for an additional mission, doubtlessly the primary Boeing flight with astronauts.

SpaceX’s new-generation capsules are additionally designed to be reusable. The Dragon 2 ships now being constructed by SpaceX are available in a human-rated variant, referred to as the Crew Dragon, and a cargo-carrying configuration for logistics flights to the area station.

Up to now, NASA has authorized plans to reuse the Dragon 2 automobiles for cargo missions. SpaceX says the Dragon 2 capsules can fly to the area station and again as much as 5 instances, and the corporate hopes to finally reuse the spaceships for crewed missions.

Boeing’s Starliner capsule lands below parachutes on land, whereas the Dragon splashes down at sea. Engineers say the publicity of delicate spacecraft elements to salt water makes reuse more difficult.

Hurley, the spacecraft commander on the Crew Dragon check flight, stated astronauts coaching for the primary few industrial missions “all suppose it’s nice thought” to assign names to their spacecraft.

“We really feel honored to proceed this custom,” Hurley stated Friday.

Russian cosmonauts have additionally used name indicators on area missions, however Russian spacecraft commanders typically use the identical title on every of their flights. For instance, Gennady Padalka, who has spent extra time in area than anybody in historical past, used the decision signal Altair on every of his 5 Soyuz missions.

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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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