A former NASA astronaut now employed by Axiom Space says that SpaceX’s private astronaut launch debut will reuse the same Crew Dragon spacecraft currently supporting NASA’s Crew-1 mission in orbit.
Currently just a few weeks into a planned six-month stint in orbit, potentially marking the longest uninterrupted flight of an American spacecraft ever, Crew Dragon capsule C207 and an expendable trunk section arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on November 16th. Known as Crew-1, the mission represents SpaceX and NASA’s commercial operational astronaut launch debut, carrying four astronauts to the ISS.
Crucially, the mission has been an almost flawless success so far and Falcon 9 has now completed four Crew Dragon launches without issue. On the Dragon side of things, the Crew-1 spacecraft performed a bit less perfectly than those tasked with flying Demo-1 and Demo-2, but SpaceX handled the minor issues that arose with the professionalism and composure of a team far more familiar with human spaceflight.
Early success aside, there is still some definite uncertainty ahead of Crew Dragon. While several Russian spacecraft have decades of experience spending at least several months at a time in orbit, a crewed US spacecraft has never spent more than 84 days in orbit. SpaceX itself actually beat out NASA to secure the second-place record with Crew Dragon’s 63-day Demo-2 astronaut launch debut, completed with a successful reentry and splashdown on August 2nd. More