NASA and SpaceX have worked side-by-side, including through detailed simulations with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley who will first fly on Crew Dragon, to develop and assess the spacecraft’s control system and the spacesuit the crew will wear during the NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
SpaceX released a docking simulator Behnken and Hurley have used during training for the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. soil to the space station.
Crew Dragon’s system includes touch screens and physical manual control options with robust fault tolerance built into the system. The touch screens have been tuned to operate with and without the SpaceX spacesuit gloves to high reliability. The control system has been thoroughly tested during the hundreds of hours of training and joint simulations with the crew in both suited and non-suited situations to demonstrate full functionality over the entire expected operating range of Crew Dragon. While the spacecraft will autonomously dock and undock with the space station, the crew onboard can take manual control if necessary.
The spacesuit is custom-made for each passenger aboard Crew Dragon and is designed to be functional, lightweight, and to offer protection from potential depressurization. A single connection point on the suit’s thigh attaches life support systems, including air and power connections. The helmet is custom manufactured using 3D printing technology and includes integrated valves, mechanisms for visor retraction and locking, and microphones within the helmet’s structure. The custom-tailored suits include touchscreen compatible gloves, a flame-resistant outer layer and provides pressurization with a controlled environment for the crew in atypical situations, such as cabin depressurization. The suit also routes communications and cooling systems to the astronauts during flight.