Image of the International Space Station (ISS), by an STS-132 crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis, after leaving the station on 2010 May 23.
(Image Sources: NASA, Wikipedia.org, By NASA/Crew of STS-132 - http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-132/hires/s132e012208.jpg(http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-132/html/s132e012208.html), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10561008)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
In anticipation of the first SpaceX astronaut crew to be launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) on May 27, SpaceX has created an on-line, docking simulator the public can use, free-of-charge. Although such ISS dockings are usually done automatically by computer, this simulator shows what astronauts would do if they needed to dock manually.
The “ISS Docking Simulator” program (Internet link to on-line simulator near end of this blog-post) is based on a real touchscreen-panel interface (although the on-line version is not a touchscreen-interface) software that the SpaceX Company, founded in 2002 by billionaire tech wizard Elon Musk, created to train the NASA astronauts to fly the new Crew Dragon spacecraft. The actual SpaceX docking simulator is located at the company's plant in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX plans to launch two astronauts toward the International Space Station on Wednesday, 2020 May 27 at 4:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 20:32 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This will be the first launch of astronauts, from American soil, since the end of NASA's Space Shuttle program in July of 2011. Since 2011, NASA ,has been leasing seats on Russian Soyuz flights, for sending American astronauts to the ISS.
If the May 27 launch is delayed by poor weather or technical problems, the next launch window opens on the original Decoration Day, May 30.
This launch will also be the first launch of astronauts into Earth orbit using a non-government space program. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who will be the crew of this historic flight, may stay on the ISS for 100 days or more.
SpaceX's Cargo Dragon or Dragon 1 spacecraft has flown 19 successful operational missions. These missions have flown supplies, only, to the International Space Station.
The May 27 launch will occur at the historic Launch Pad 39A at the John F. Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida. Launch Pad 39A was originally built by NASA for the Apollo space program which launched 12 astronauts who walked on the Moon between 1969 and 1972, as well as the historic Apollo 8 flight when, for the first time, three astronauts went into orbit of a planetary body other than the Earth (the Earth's Moon) in December of 1968.
Launch Pad 39A was modified in the late 1970s for use in the Space Shuttle program. SpaceX leases Launch Pad 39A from NASA for the launch of the company's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on May 27.
Although many video games are action-packed, with objectives being achieved quickly, this is not true for the SpaceX simulator. This simulator shows that docking a spacecraft with the ISS is painstakingly slow and precise.
The simulator teaches the user to control the spacecraft, attempting to dock with the ISS, using the spacecraft's pitch, yaw, roll, and approach speed.
To be successful with this simulator, you have to carefully manipulate the controls. Although it is not real easy, the simulator includes some instructions to help the “virtual astronaut.”
SpaceX's “ISS Docking Simulator”: Link >>> https://iss-sim.spacex.com/
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 Mission:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2020.html#spacexlaunch
Photograph of SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule:
Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2020/05/astro-calendar-2020-may-1st-private.html
Link 1 >>> https://www.spacex.com/
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX
International Space Station (ISS):
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station
Kennedy Space Center Historic Launch Pad 39A:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennedy_Space_Center_Launch_Complex_39#Launch_Pad_39A
Related Blog Posts ----
"Astro-Calendar: 2020 May / 1st Private, Crewed Space Launch May 27." Fri., 2020 May 1.
"Web-Cast: 1st Test Launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Tue. Afternoon." Tue., 2018 Feb. 6.
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
Tuesday, 2020 May 19.
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
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