Crew Dragon breaks record for longest flight by human-rated U.S. spacecraft – Spaceflight Now

An astronaut snapped this image of the Crew Dragon “Resilience” spacecraft whereas outdoors the Worldwide Area Station on a spacewalk Jan. 27. Credit score: NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that carried 4 astronauts to the Worldwide Area Station in November broke the document Sunday for the longest spaceflight by a U.S. crew automobile, surpassing the 84-day mark set by an Apollo capsule on the ultimate flight to the Skylab area station in 1974.

The Crew Dragon “Resilience” spacecraft launched Nov. 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart in Florida, using a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit earlier than linking up with the Worldwide Area Station the subsequent day.

Commander Michael Hopkins led the four-person crew, joined by pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialists Soichi Noguchi and Shannon Walker. The mission, designated Crew-1, is the primary operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the primary Crew Dragon to hold 4 astronauts.

A check flight aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” capsule final yr ferried NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the area station. That check flight lasted 64 days.

The 84-day milestone handed Sunday by the Crew Dragon Resilience spaceship broke a document established in 1974 by the Skylab Four mission. The three-man Skylab Four crew flew on an Apollo spacecraft to NASA’s Skylab area station in low Earth orbit, and their mission ended Feb. 8, 1974, with a splashdown within the Pacific Ocean. It was the ultimate mission to the Skylab station earlier than it re-entered the ambiance in 1979.

Science pilot Edward Gibson is the one member of the Skylab Four crew nonetheless alive. Commander Gerald Carr died final yr, and pilot William Pogue died in 2014.

Hopkins and his crewmates had a video convention with Gibson Sunday.

“Right this moment Crew-1 broke the document for longest U.S. area capsule mission ever, Skylab 4’s 84-day document in 1974,” tweeted Noguchi, a Japanese astronaut., “We have been honored and thrilled to speak to Skylab astronaut Ed Gibson.”

The Crew-1 astronauts are about midway by way of their deliberate five-and-a-half month mission. The Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft is scheduled to undock from the area station and return to Earth with a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida round Might 1.

SpaceX’s rising fleet of Crew Dragon capsules are designed to fly in low Earth orbit for as much as 210 days per mission, a requirement set by NASA. The U.S. area company contracted with SpaceX and Boeing to develop and fly human-rated business crew capsules to the area station, ending NASA’s reliance on Russian Soyuz spaceships for astronaut transportation providers.

The three Apollo flights to the Skylab area station lasted 28 days, 59 days, and 84 days. NASA’s area shuttles have been restricted to flights of some weeks, with the longest shuttle flight lasting practically 18 days in 1996.

Hopkins, Glover, Noguchi, and Walker are joined on the area station by Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov, flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov, and Rubins launched Oct. 14 on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

A contemporary three-person crew will launch on the subsequent Russian Soyuz mission April 9, adopted by the departure of Ryzhikov’s crew in mid-April to go for a touchdown on the steppes of Kazakhstan, wrapping up a six-month flight on the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft.

Crew-1 commander Mike Hopkins, mission specialists Soichi Noguchi and Shannon Walker, and pilot Victor Glover spoke with Skylab astronaut Ed Gibson final weekend. Credit score: Soichi Noguchi

Earlier than the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft returns to Earth, SpaceX’s subsequent crewed capsule is scheduled to blast off April 20 from the Kennedy Area Heart with 4 contemporary astronauts to kick off a virtually six-month rotation on the Worldwide Area Station.

NASA commander Shane Kimbrough, pilot Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Area Company astronaut Thomas Pesquet are coaching for the Crew-2 mission, which is able to reuse the Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule flown on the Demo-2 check flight final yr.

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Comply with Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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