NASA has completed a habitability assessment of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to check that it can comfortably carry more than two astronauts on future missions.
The Crew Dragon arrived at the International Space Station at the end of May carrying NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in a mission that marked the first crewed use of the capsule.
During the assessment, NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin joined Hurley and Behnken inside the capsule, and together they were able to show there was still enough room to easily perform all of the necessary tasks associated with a regular mission.
The successful test means that barring any major issues, the Crew Dragon will fly four astronauts to the space station in September 2020. The capsule, which could eventually carry up to seven people, will also be used for upcoming space tourism flights.
The assessment exercise was carried out earlier this month, with NASA releasing an edited video (below) of the task on YouTube on Tuesday, July 21.
As this is only the Crew Dragon’s second time in space after its debut flight in 2019 as part of a crewless test mission to the space station, Hurley and Behnken have also been tasked with carrying out a range of additional tests on the capsule to ensure that all of its features operate as they should in a space environment.
These have included confirming the safety of the capsule’s entry/exit hatch, ensuring the reliability of the waste system, and checking there’s adequate space for any necessary cargo.
NASA officials are aiming for Hurley and Behnken to depart the ISS aboard the Crew Dragon on August 1, with splashdown expected the following day, likely in the Atlantic Ocean.
For another view inside the Crew Dragon, check out the personal tour that Behnken gave on the outward journey.
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