During the morning of this Monday (5), the astronauts of the Crew-1 mission completed the first port of change of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on the International Space Station (ISS). The move, which signals the start of a busy month of crew arrivals and departures in the orbital lab, was made to prepare the station for the arrival of the Crew-2 mission crew, scheduled to launch on April 22.
The move was made by NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi, from the Japanese space agency JAXA. They decoupled the Crew Dragon ship, which received the nickname Resilience, from the front door of the Harmony module at 7:30 am, Brasília time. Then, the ship was reconnected to the module door facing space, at 08h08.
Mike Hopkins, commander of Crew-1, commented during a call that the crew was happy to move the ship, and also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Commercial Crew Program: “We would like to congratulate you on behalf of the Expedition 64 team and the Crew -1. Congratulations to the Commercial Crew Program for 10 years, which have been incredible, ”he said during a call with Steve Stich, the program manager. The Crew-1 mission was the first of the Commercial Crew Program, through which NASA establishes partnerships with private companies to take its astronauts to the ISS
While preparing for the maneuver, Hopkins commented that he would spend Easter Sunday ensuring that the Crew Dragon was completely clean. Here, this is an adapted version of the game of hunting chocolate eggs – the station has seven crew members on board, and there are only six dorms there. So Hopkins was accommodated aboard Resilience for the past few months.
The relocation maneuver is part of a complex sequence of vehicle activities on the ISS. With the move, the next Crew Dragon spacecraft will be able to dock at the front door of the Harmony module when it arrives with the crew of the Crew-2 mission, comprised of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, JAXA and Thomas Pesquet, of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Although the maneuver was done quickly, it is complex: “it is incredible to make such a flight”, commented Kate Rubis, NASA astronaut, who participated in a similar procedure to move the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft manually as opposed to the SpaceX vehicle , in which the process was done autonomously. With the change of Crew Dragon, a busy month began, with some activities that will completely change the crew on board the ISS by the end of the month.
On April 9, the Soyuz MS-18 will be launched, taking cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov, along with NASA astronaut Mark Vander Hei. Then, on the 17th of the same month, Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov return to Earth on board the Soyuz MS-17. The Crew-1 mission is then due to end in late April or early May, and the astronauts are expected to return off the Florida coast. Then, the capsule will undergo maintenance to be used on the Inspiration4 mission, a commercial SpaceX flight entirely composed of civilians, which is expected to take place at the end of the year.
With that, the door of the Harmony module is free to receive a Dragon cargo ship, also from SpaceX, which will be loaded with supplies and the first set of solar panels to be installed on the ISS. Preparations for the new panels began in February, during a space walk by Rubins and Victor Glover. During the activities, they installed a modification kit, which will be necessary to receive the new components.
Check out the full broadcast of the Crew Dragon relocation:
Fonte: Space.com, SpaceNews
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