Dragon V2 Program Lead Dr. Garrett Reisman believes SpaceX’s new crew vehicle is a “giant leap forward” in safety and technology. The new vehicle – unveiled last Thursday – is the leading contender to win the right to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), a viable advance on the current mode of transportation that his former NASA colleagues currently use to ride to the orbital outpost.
Dr. Reisman’s Dragon V2:
Dr. Garrett Reisman is a veteran of three shuttle flights and an International Space Station Expedition crewmember. He even served as a Colonial Marine on the fictitious Battlestar Galactica.
Following his retirement from NASA, Dr. Reisman joined what many consider as the main ray of hope about the future, taking up a key position at SpaceX.
Now the Program Lead for the Dragon V2, Dr. Reisman brings with him a huge amount of space flight experience, as the California-based company look to upgrade their role in space from satellite launches and cargo missions, to crew transportation.
The three main contenders to win back domestic crew launch independence for the United States – SNC’s Dream Chaser, Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon – are all making good progress via NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
At least one – hopefully two – of the contenders will progress towards a test mission sometime between 2015 and 2016, with the latest expanded FPIP manifest (L2) showing a conservative placeholder for a CCP test flight at the end of 2016.
According to Reisman, that flight will have a NASA astronaut on board. It was previously thought the test missions would involve a roster of internally selected astronauts.
Pending a successful test flight, Dragon V2 – providing she wins the Commercial Crew process – will change call signs to USCV-1 (US Crew Vehicle -1).
This flight is currently manifested – per the FPIP schedule – for docking with the ISS on December 7, 2017. However, efforts are being made to accelerate that date in light of the recent geopolitical uncertainties surrounding relationships with the Russians.
For that Dragon mission, the crew will be entirely made up from NASA astronauts.
“When we’re flying regularly, it’s a rental car. So it’ll be all NASA astronauts, ” added Dr. Reisman – as much as the vehicle will be controlled from MCC-X in Hawthorne during launch and ahead of entering – and departing – the ISS’ neighborhood, as is the scenario with cargo Dragons under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
“We’ll run mission control, and we’ll be controlling from the ground, but we’re not going to have anyone inside other than the NASA astronauts.”
Standing just off stage from the new Dragon V2 that was enjoying the glare of the media for the first time last Thursday, Dr. Reisman provided insight into the obvious differences between the sporty looking capsule and the spacecraft he has had the honor of riding to space in.
Dr. Reisman launched with the STS-123 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on March 11, 2008 and returned to Earth with the crew of STS-124 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on June 14, 2008.
During the interim period, he served with both the Expedition 16 and Expedition 17 crews as a flight engineer aboard the ISS – and as a result was trained to fly on the Russian Soyuz, which serves as a lifeboat for Expedition crewmembers.
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