Crew Prepares for Dragon Release After Hatches Closed

SpaceX Dragon
Expedition 42 Commander and NASA Astronaut Barry Wilmore and European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the SpaceX Dragon (CRS-5) ship on Jan. 12 2015. Photo Credit: NASA

The Expedition 42 crew closed the hatches to the Dragon commercial cargo craft today after loading it with critical gear and research. Dragon will be unberthed from the Harmony module then released from the grips of the Canadarm2 Tuesday afternoon. It will splashdown off the Pacific coast of Baja California for recovery by SpaceX engineers a couple of hours before sunset.

› Read more about NASA TV coverage of the release of SpaceX Dragon

Meanwhile, a trio of cosmonauts worked in the Russian segment of the International Space Station on their set of science investigations. They studied ways to locate punctures caused my micro-meteoroids on the Russian side of the station; they looked at the behavior of charged macroparticles inside a magnetic trap; they also explored crew training methods using interactive 3D manuals, or virtual manuals.

Another resupply spacecraft is counting down to its undocking from the space station this weekend. Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 (ATV-5) is set to undock from the Zvezda service module Saturday for a fiery deorbit over the Pacific about two weeks later. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti installed internal cameras inside the ATV-5 that will record its breakup during the reentry. Engineers will use this data to understand the mechanics of a deorbiting spacecraft.

9 thoughts on “Crew Prepares for Dragon Release After Hatches Closed”

  1. I have been receiving an email to advise when the International Space Station is overhead in our area (Queenstown NZ) but lately we have not received any information.
    Is the Space Station not going over our area at present?
    I wish to continue receiving the email as before. Many thanks Carolyn McMillan

  2. Could the ISS be much-modified and turned into a ship capable of carrying a crew to Mars? And do it in tandem (flying in formation) with a lander module to Visiting Mars?

    The ISS would need a low-thrust reaction drive amongst many other things. But the basic elements are there. Electrical power generation would be a problem. But many of the ISS’s system could hibernate. Some of the modules could be used for hydroponic farming of food, i.e. vegetables. Human waste could be treated and used in the process of fertilization. ‘There’s no such thing as waste, just unrealized potential.’

    A major overhaul would be needed on the life-support systems, the water systems (urine, wash water etc. recycled into drinking water.

    My point is this, you have an amazing resource in orbit and I believe you have the making of a ship capable of long voyages.

    There is concern over the Crew suffering from, ‘Cabin Fever.’ I would suggest you take a look at Atomic Submarine Crews who spend a great deal of time underwater. Making use of Virtual Reality, very large screen TV with 3D showing Lakes, Mountains and all those things a shut-in would yearn for. The US Navy will have a great deal of data and research on this.

    All of my foregoing suggestions and all of the points I’ve missed will cost a lot less that if you built a brand new crew module from scratch.

    Cheers, Aaron

    1. The module interconnects were not designed to sustain the kind of thrust necessary to accelerate from orbital velocity to escape velocity in a reasonable amount of time. The longer you spend performing that delta-V, the longer you have to feed and house the crew. Lots of proposals for using the same modular concept for building inter-planetary “motherships” to carry crew and landers back and forth.

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