In the latest issue of Russian Space magazine, published on the Roskosmos website, among others, an article entitled American Beauty about the first private manned launch, which SpaceX carried out on a Crew Dragon, was presented. The publication can be called critical.
She recalls that the mission was 5 years late compared to the original plans, lists problems and delays along the way, and notes that SpaceX bypassed Boeing due to misfire of the latter. The material also focuses on a skillful PR campaign for the promotion of the mission, paying tribute to the announcement of the astronauts traveling on Tesla cars, and a browser game that allows anyone who wants to dock Crew Dragon to the ISS using similar real controls.
According to the astronauts’ feelings, in comparison with Space Shuttle, the loading loads were lower, and the Falcon 9 accelerators on liquid fuel worked noticeably smoother, but only until the second stage was turned on, and the Crew Dragon “snorted and puffed” all the way, and the ship’s compartment turned out to be more sharper than the shuttle.
The article recognizes the obvious: for the United States, this development is a notable achievement, because from now on American cosmonauts will again be able to fly into orbit without the help of Russian Unions. The United States got what it was striving for: a compact and more reliable than Space Shuttle manned space-rocket system, while allowing it to spend less on crew delivery (each mission will be several times, if not an order of magnitude cheaper). Among the advantages of Crew Dragon compared with shuttles, a system is provided that ensures crew rescue in the event of an accident at any launch site: from the moment the carrier rocket starts refueling to the ship’s separation from the last stage due to the propulsion system integrated in the return vehicle. It was created, inter alia, to realize the function of soft rocket landing on land, but so far the capsules are dumped into the ocean.
But there are also drawbacks: for example, Roskosmos’s alarm is caused by the placement of huge thrust liquid engines directly behind the cabin wall: experts question the safety of the crew’s proximity and a couple of tons of toxic fuel components (nitrogen tetroxide and monomethylhydrazine) supplied under pressure to the emergency rescue engines.
Also, Roscosmos experts noted that the Crew Dragon is much more spacious than the Soyuz and is designed for seven people. But at the same time, only up to 4 cosmonauts are being delivered so that the system turns out to be excessive. Among the minuses of the ship, problems with comfort in sanitary services are also indicated: for example, astronauts complained that the toilet area was separated from the rest of the cabin with only a symbolic screen.
The article, which is quite large in volume, also refers to the immediate plans of SpaceX, talks about how Americans liked flying on Soyuz, and offers some comments by Dmitry Rogozin.
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