It’s no mystery by now that SpaceX is working hard to earn the right to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station via NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Launching astronauts to space from American soil is something that hasn’t been done since the Space Shuttle era, and the commercial space company wants to make history on that front.
SpaceX is heavily invested in its Crew Dragon capsule, a spacecraft designed specifically for crewed space missions such as what NASA would need for International Space Station trips. The commercial space company is thoroughly testing its Crew Dragon platform with NASA to ensure ideal safety and reliability – two big musts to get the green light from NASA for live cargo.
In this animation, just recently released by SpaceX, we can see how the Crew Dragon platform will operate from start to finish – from launching into space atop a SpaceX-branded rocket to docking with the International Space Station to returning back home with precious cargo. Each step of this process is highly meticulous and necessitates a high level of planning before it can be executed.
Just like with most cargo-centric launches, a first stage booster rocket will carry the spacecraft and its second stage up into space. After that, the second stage propels the spacecraft into position, helping it to align with the International Space station for docking. Once docked, material and personnel transfer can begin.
Once it’s time for the Crew Dragon to return home, material and personnel transfer will happen again before the spacecraft undocks with the International Space Station. It will carefully descend down into the Earth’s atmosphere, after which it will deploy massive parachutes to slow its fall before making a soft landing out at sea.
Just like that, SpaceX aims to make space travel almost as simple as launching a satellite into space on one of its reusable rockets.