Dragon - Resilience
In keeping with a tradition started by NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the first crewed Dragon mission, the Crew-1 astronauts who first flew this particular capsule also named it.
The name Resilience was chosen to acknowledge those who are experiencing extraordinary hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic and to those who continue to experience persecution and oppression around the world.
The capsule completed its first mission, a 167-day flight to the ISS from November 2020 to May 2021. Now, it will fly the four members of the Inspiration4 crew to orbit for three days.
The Inspiration4 mission is raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and includes four pillars of excellence: Leadership, Prosperity, Hope, and Generosity.
Each crew member represents one of the pillars:
The mission also chose an official, Earth-based photographer with John Kraus, who has been documenting the crew’s training activities.
Meet the first privately developed and built human orbital spacecraft.
Called Crew Dragon, but known officially as Dragon v2, this SpaceX capsule is designed to carry a maximum of four passengers to the International Space Station or other Earth orbit destinations after being launched atop a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
The capsule includes a launch abort system, advanced environmental control and life support system that keeps the crew safe during flight, and state-of-the-art touchscreen interfaces.
Crew Dragon is designed to operate autonomously but can be manually controlled by SpaceX teams in Hawthorne, California, and the astronauts on board.
Under the contracted crew rotation missions to the Space Station for NASA, Dragon will carry a regular crew of 4 international astronauts.
Crew Dragon is also available for private missions to Earth orbit for paying customers.
For missions to the Station, Crew Dragon can remain in orbit for up to 6 months.
Photo credit: SpaceX
The Falcon 9 is the first human-rated orbital rocket built by a private company and is single-handedly responsible for the dramatic drop in launch prices over the last several years.
A brand new Falcon 9 costs about $62 million. A "flight-proven" -- or re-flown -- Falcon 9 comes in at a price tag as low as $50.3 million per contracts that have been made public.
The Falcon 9 has greatly reduced launch costs because of its innovative and low-cost production process and its reuse of the first stage booster and the rocket's payload fairings.
The Falcon 9’s first stage, the booster, is built to fly itself back to the launch site or land itself autonomously on a drone ship in the middle of the ocean for recovery and reuse.
SpaceX hopes the base price of a flight-proven Falcon 9 can drop into the $30 million range -- significantly cheaper than any competitor on the market.
This competition has forced other launch providers to significantly lower their overall launch costs where possible and design new, low cost rockets when lowering the price of existing rockets is not possible.
In March 2021, a Falcon 9 first stage successfully completed its ninth launch and recovery, a new reuse milestone for SpaceX.
Protecting the Crew
On the launch pad, the crew will board Dragon prior to fueling of the rocket.
Dragon's abort system will be armed and ready to pull the crew away from the Falcon 9 in the event a critical issue develops during fueling.
The launch to a 200 x 200 km orbit will take just under 9 minutes.
Dragon and its crew will then separate from the Falcon 9 second stage 11 minutes after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center.
Photo: John Kraus for Supercluster
NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center is located on Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has hosted decades of historic space missions since the early days of the Apollo program.
Today, Kennedy Space Center is a multi-user spaceport and hosts private companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and others.
SpaceX leases Launch Complex 39A at NASA's flagship facility and uses the pad to launch its Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets. The pad is also used to launch missions for the Commercial Crew Program for which SpaceX launches astronauts to the Space Station for NASA aboard their Crew Dragon capsule.
Launch Complex 39A was previously used by NASA to launch the Apollo 11 mission to land the first humans on the moon and Space Shuttle missions to assemble the International Space Station and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image: John Kraus for Supercluster
The Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship "Just Read The Instructions" is one of two Atlantic Ocean recovery ships for SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. It was first used exclusively in the Pacific Ocean before being brought through the Panama Canal to Louisiana and then Port Canaveral for refits and upgrades. Its first Atlantic Ocean mission supported the 8th Starlink launch in June 2020.
Low Earth Orbit
This crew flight will be somewhat unique as it will not visit a space station.
Inspiration4 will be the first time since STS-125/Shuttle Atlantis in May 2009 that a crewed orbital space mission does not rendezvous with a space station. It will also be the first time since Shenzhou 7 in September 2008 that a crewed spaceflight will not rendezvous with an object in orbit.
Despite this, Inspiration4 will be launched into the International Space Station’s orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees for crew abort safety needs. Instead of going to the ISS at a 415 km orbit, the mission will travel to a 590 km orbit.
Dragon Resilience has had its docking port removed for this flight and a glass dome installed instead to provide unobstructed, 360-degree views of Earth.
Photo Credit: SpaceX.