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SpaceX hosts training for astronauts in preparation for dragon spacecraft station berthing

Published by Matt on Thu Dec 3, 2009 10:11 pm
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Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently conducted its first Dragon spacecraft operations training for a group of NASA astronauts and personnel at its corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. The October training focused on how the crew will interface with the Dragon spacecraft while it is approaching and berthed to the International Space Station (ISS).

Three of the participating astronauts—Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock—will be on board the ISS when Dragon makes its first visit under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

ISS Expedition 23 Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson inside SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft with SpaceX's CEO and CTO, Elon Musk. Credit: SpaceX

ISS Expedition 23 Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson inside SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft with SpaceX's CEO and CTO, Elon Musk. Credit: SpaceX

The astronauts were briefed on vehicle ingress and egress, habitability of the spacecraft, payload handling and commanding through SpaceX’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit. The training was a key step in SpaceX’s progress towards providing NASA an alternative for cargo transport to and from the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires.

“This was the first time the NASA astronauts who will interact with Dragon during its early missions were actually inside a Dragon flight vehicle,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO, SpaceX. “SpaceX was honored to host the ISS crew for this preliminary training exercise, and we look forward to serving NASA further under the COTS program and CRS contracts.”

Also in attendance were NASA astronauts Marsha Ivins and Megan McArthur, as well as other key NASA personnel from the NASA Astronaut Office and Mission Operations Directorates.

Under the COTS program, SpaceX will execute three flights of the Dragon spacecraft. Dragon will pass in close proximity to, and berth with, the ISS as part of the second and third COTS missions, respectively. Upon completion of these demonstration flights, SpaceX will begin to fulfill the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 and represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS.

About SpaceX

NASA Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Douglas Wheelock, Megan McArthur and Shannon Walker with SpaceX's CEO and CTO, Elon Musk. Credit: SpaceX

NASA Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Douglas Wheelock, Megan McArthur and Shannon Walker with SpaceX's CEO and CTO, Elon Musk. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. Starting in 2010, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth-to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the International Space Station (ISS).

Founded in 2002, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The SpaceX team now numbers over 800, with corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, California. For more information, please visit the company’s web site at www.SpaceX.com.

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