It’s been a while since I’ve had the joy of posting a spacecraft animation, and today I get to share one that’s very special to me — animation of a complete CST-100 mission. It’s not yet available anywhere I can just link it, but SpaceflightNow has posted it to their website. And alas, it doesn’t have sound yet. But it sure looks pretty. 😉
Tag Archives: Commercial Crew
Today, Shane Kimbrough (USA) and Thomas Pesquet (France) ventured outside the ISS to complete the 40th spacewalk from the US segment of the International Space Station, and the 198th overall. (Note: most of the ISS spacewalks were conducted not from Station at all but from Shuttle, which is why the total spacewalk number appears so inflated by comparison.) Today’s activities revolved mostly around prepping PMA-3 for its upcoming move to the Harmony node, where it will become available for future commercial crew operations. This mostly consisted of unplugging things. They also installed a new multiplexer/demultiplexer (MDM), did some work on the external cameras, lubricated the SSRMS, and completed some inspection work. This video covers the entire spacewalk, not just the highlights, so maybe flip around through it to find interesting bits. 😉 This includes egress; you have to go up to about 45 minutes before they’re even emerging from the airlock. (Spacewalks are complex; it’s not like going for a casual stroll.)
Today, Boeing unveiled the new blue launch-and-entry suit to be worn by crew of the CST-100 Starliner. It’s quite an impressive step forward from the ACES suits worn on Shuttle, designed to be much more practical, which should improve compliance. (One problem identified on the Shuttle program was that crews almost never were fully suited up until half way through the reentry, because a) it took too long and b) the gloves made it difficult to operate equipment.) They’re also much lighter and apparently vastly more comfortable, not requiring the liquid-cooled undergarment to keep the crewman from sweating away too much of their body weight while waiting to fly. Here, it’s modeled by Boeing’s director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems, Chris Ferguson, who is a former Shuttle astronaut himself:
Now, this suit isn’t intended for spacewalking. Like the ACES suits and the Russian Sokol suits, it’s only intended to protect the crewmembers from an accidental depressurization of the capsule. It also lacks a rigid helmet and a parachute pack, two features required on the Shuttle suits, but which should not be relevant in a capsule, where egress isn’t really feasible but the capsule itself is far more survivable than the Shuttle ever was in the event of a serious mishap.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get really excited about the prospect of American spacecraft flying into orbit once more. 😉 It’s been a long time coming.
At last, the CST-100 has a proper name! Following the tradition of names like Stratoliner (the first airliner with a pressurized cabin) and Dreamliner (the 787, Boeing’s latest airliner), the CST-100 has been dubbed the Starliner.
You can watch the full ceremony, officially opening Boeing’s Commercial Cargo and Crew Processing Facility (C3PF), the former Orbiter Processing Facility 3, at Kennedy Space Center, here:
SpaceX has just released this awesome video cut together from two cameras on the sides of the Dragon spacecraft prototype. It cuts out just before the vehicle gets dunked, but it’s still pretty cool. It gives you an appreciation for how wild the ride would be in the event of an emergency.
And, just for fun, here’s the view from the ground once again:
Dragon 2 successfully blasted itself off the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Station this morning, looking quite tiny between the big lightning rods that normally protect Falcon 9, and splashed down in the Atlantic about a mile away. Looks like a very wild ride, although it would have been survivable. Which is, after all, the point.
The test was successful, though as one might expect from a test, not everything went precisely as planned. One of the engines shut down prematurely, leading to MECO about half a second early, and a downrange distance a bit shy of the plan. It was still far enough away from the pad to protect the crew against an exploding Falcon 9. SpaceX engineers will have plenty of work going over all the engineering data they collected and working out what needs improvement.
Congrats on a great test, SpaceX!
This is absolutely awesome: the entire flight profile of the Falcon Heavy, with three flyback first stage cores. The animation manages to cover all the major elements of the flight, which is impressive since a lot of them are happening at once. It’s gorgeous.
And while we’re on a SpaceX kick, here’s another lovely animation: the Dragon V2 flight profile, including the propulsive landing at KSC that they intend to migrate to later in the program.