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NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Photo credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX releases docking simulator ahead of Dragon crew launch

SpaceX has released a docking simulator that gives you a look at how they’re preparing astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley for their mission to the International Space Station later this month.

NASA and SpaceX have been working together to develop and assess the spacecraft’s control system and the spacesuit the crew will wear during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station as part of their Commercial Crew Program.

Additionally, SpaceX released the simulator that Behnken and Hurley have been using to train for the return of human spaceflight from U.S. soil to the space station.

The system, which you can see for yourself here, includes touch screens, physical manual control options and a robust fault tolerance built-in.

SpaceX simulator (SpaceX/NASA)

SpaceX says the system has been thoroughly tested over hundreds of hours of training. While during the real-life mission the spacecraft will autonomously dock and undock with the space station, the crew will be able to take manual control if necessary.

As for the spacesuit, NASA says they are custom-made for each passenger aboard Crew Dragon and “designed to be functional, lightweight and to offer protection from potential depressurization.”

A single connection point on the suit’s thigh attaches life support systems, including air and power connections. The helmet is custom manufactured using 3D printing technology and includes integrated valves, mechanisms for visor retraction and locking, and microphones within the helmet’s structure. The custom-tailored suits include touchscreen-compatible gloves, a flame-resistant outer layer and provides pressurization with a controlled environment for the crew in atypical situations, such as cabin depressurization. The suit also routes communications and cooling systems to the astronauts during flight.

For more information about the Crew Dragon mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, click here. 

Writer:Briana Harvath
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