Dragon - Endeavour
Meet the first privately developed spacecraft to carry humans into Earth orbit.
The Dragon Endeavour first flew Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on the Demo-2 mission for NASA in May of 2020. The capsule returned human launch capability to NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Program, which will serve U.S., Canadian, Japanese, and European astronauts as well as Russian cosmonauts.
During Demo-2, Bob and Doug named this Dragon in recognition of the Space Shuttle Endeavour - the ship that flew them both to space for the first time.
Like its namesake, Dragon Endeavour is designed for reuse and returned to Earth with Bob and Doug on August 2nd, 2020 - safely completing its first voyage after 65 days in space.
It was then refurbished at Cape Canaveral, Florida, for the upcoming Crew-2 six-month mission to the Space Station.
Dragon for crew (general)
This SpaceX capsule is designed to carry a crew of four 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, an 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.
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.
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.
The Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship "Of Course I Still Love You" is one of two Atlantic Ocean recovery ships for SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. It has been used exclusively by SpaceX in the Atlantic Ocean, with its first successful recovery of a Falcon 9 occuring on the CRS-8 mission in April 2016 (pictured).
After a 1 day orbital dance, Dragon will perform an automated docking to the U.S. "Harmony" module of the International Space Station.
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