SpaceX performed a perfect launch of its Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday, May 30. The milestone event marked the first astronaut launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, and the first crewed launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.
Within just a few hours of beginning their 19-hour journey to the International Space Station — scheduled to arrive at 7:27 a.m. PT on Sunday, May 31 — NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, together with his colleague Doug Hurley, gave space fans watching a livestream of the historic mission a quick look around the Crew Dragon.
Pointing out the Crew Dragon’s three touchscreens, Behnken described the interior of the capsule as “a lot different” from the Space Shuttle, which had thousands of switches and buttons, as well as numerous displays.
Hurley and Behnken will use the capsule’s touchscreens to monitor the automatic docking procedure with the ISS, though the screens will also play an important role if there’s a problem as the spacecraft approaches the space station and the astronauts have to take over to perform the maneuver manually.
Behnken left his seat to show us more of the interior of the capsule, including the entry hatch and four windows.
“We each have a window that we can view out to see what’s going on outside,” the astronaut said. “That was exciting on ascent for us to be able to see the arm rotate away from the pad, and that’s when we both knew we were going to launch today.”
Behnken said he’d received a request to do a backflip to demonstrate the zero gravity inside the Crew Dragon, though the tightness of the space meant he had to settle for a “side spin” instead.
Oh, and also check out the “stowaway” that managed to join the two astronauts on the trip to the ISS.
- After splashdown, what’s next for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft?
- Liftoff to splashdown: SpaceX’s historic Crew Dragon mission in pictures
- SpaceX and NASA’s Crew Dragon set to return to Earth on August 1
- First picture of NASA astronauts after historic Crew Dragon splashdown
- How to watch NASA astronauts return to Earth on the SpaceX Crew Dragon