Innovation

Musk Reads: SpaceX Crew Dragon returns

Crew Dragon makes its way home and Starship completes a test fire. Could Crew Dragon land on ground?

Crew Dragon makes its way home and Starship completes a test fire. Could Crew Dragon land on ground? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #191.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk quote of the week

“There’s not that much good news, and I think this is one of those things that is universally good no matter where you are on planet Earth. This is a good thing, and I hope it brightens your day.”

SpaceX

It’s back! SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth on Sunday, 64 days after its first liftoff. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first crew to splash down since 1975 when they landed off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. Eastern time. The pair had been at the International Space Station as part of the first crewed mission for the Crew Dragon, dubbed “Demo–2,” where they completed over 110 hours of work. Read more.

In a series of images, NASA captured the impressive moment when the Crew Dragon returned to Earth. The capsule’s hatch was opened at 3:50 p.m. Eastern time, after which they were brought to Houston for a press conference. The focus now turns to the “Crew–1” mission in a few weeks, which will send up NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover Jr., and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Read more.

A video released by SpaceX details the suits worn by astronauts on board the company’s capsules. The video, which was previously shown during the “Demo–2” launch coverage, explains how it connects with the rest of the capsule to offer advanced communication capabilities and access to the capsule’s touchscreens. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the 10th batch of 60 Starlink satellites on August 6 at 1:33 a.m. Eastern time. The launch will take place from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This mission will also launch two satellites for Seattle-based BlackSky as part of a ridesharing agreement.

In other Musk news…

  • Boaters surrounded the Crew Dragon capsule after splashdown. The United States Coast Guard released a statement after explaining that these unauthorized visitors were “putting themselves and those involved in the operation in potential danger.”
  • A full-size prototype of the Starship, SpaceX’s giant under-construction rocket, completed a static test fire on July 30. The next goal will be to hold a 150-meter “hop test.”
  • “Crew–2” now has a crew. The third planned Crew Dragon mission with a crew is expected to launch in spring 2021. NASA will be sending astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur. The European Space Agency will be sending Thomas Pesquet. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will be sending Akihiko Hoshide.
  • In a wide-ranging New York Times interview, Musk criticized Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin: “The rate of progress is too slow and the amount of years he has left is not enough, but I’m still glad he’s doing what he’s doing with Blue Origin.”
  • Rocket Lab announces plans to resume Electron launches in August. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

wellson1 writes:

Could the capsule land on earth provided it had the fuel to do so? If yes, could a modular system be created to replace the fuel within the capsule while in orbit from a supply ship from earth. Then the Crew Dragon could land, just a thought.

A capsule can land on Earth, but not this one. The New York Times explains that either is fine, and both Russian Soyuz and Chinese Shenzhou capsules land on the ground. Musk explained on Twitter over the weekend that “parachutes were originally the backup landing system, with SuperDraco thrusters as primary. Difficulty of proving thruster landing safety and architecture being suboptimal for moon/Mars caused us to change focus to parachutes.”

Christine Ellis writes:

Go Crew Endeavor Dragon, Bob and Doug. Fair weather and following seas!

It seems the Crew Dragon has indeed completed its ambitious mission!

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Photo of the week

Behnken and Hurley complete their mission.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.NASA/Flickr

Got any photos or videos you’d like to share? Feel free to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #191, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

What did you think of today’s stories? Hit reply to this email to let us know. Thanks for reading!

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

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