SpaceX just unveiled the view astronauts will see when they board a Crew Dragon spaceship.
A new video from SpaceX, unveiled via Twitter Friday (Jan. 25), offers a glimpse of what NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will see later this year when they board a Crew Dragon for its first-ever crewed spaceflight. The video shows SpaceX's sleek access arm — the hallway-like bridge that astronauts will use to board the craft — at Launch Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
"View of Launch Complex 39A and Crew Dragon from the crew access arm," SpaceX representatives wrote in the tweet.
SpaceX is currently preparing to launch the first uncrewed test flight of a Crew Dragon next month. That February flight, called Demo-1, will launch from Pad 39A and rendezvous with the International Space Station, then return to Earth for an ocean splashdown. It's that Demo-1 Crew Dragon capsule atop its Falcon 9 rocket that we see move into view in the new SpaceX video. The spacecraft appears first in a window to the left of the arm's open end, then in the passageway itself. [Take a Walk Through SpaceX's Crew Dragon]
The crew access arm at SpaceX's Pad 39A launch site is relatively new. SpaceX installed the 85-foot-long (25 meters) arm in August 2018 at the 265-foot (80 m) level of the launchpad's Fixed Service Structure, which NASA used to access its winged orbiters on the pad during the space shuttle era.
SpaceX has been launching uncrewed Dragon cargo flights to the station for NASA since 2012. But Demo-1 will mark the first flight of a new type of Dragon spacecraft equipped with life support, emergency launch abort and other vital systems needed for supporting an astronaut crew.
If all goes well with the Demo-1 flight, SpaceX will launch an in-flight abort test of the spacecraft and follow that with the first crewed launch sometime in the summer, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has said. Last August, NASA unveiled Behnken and Hurley as the first astronauts to be scheduled to fly on Crew Dragon.
SpaceX is one of two companies NASA has tapped to launch astronaut crews to and from the International Space Station. The other company is Boeing, which is building its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to ferry crews to the station. Like SpaceX, Boeing is preparing to launch its first uncrewed test flight in the next few months, with an in-flight abort test and crewed test flight to follow. Boeing's Starliner space capsule will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.