- SpaceX’s next astronauts — Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi — have named their new spaceship “Resilience.”
- The astronauts are set to launch aboard the capsule, a Crew Dragon spacecraft funded by NASA and designed by SpaceX, on October 31.
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SpaceX and NASA are moving forward with their partnership, gearing up to regularly ferry astronauts to and from orbit in a new era of commercial human spaceflight.
Four astronauts — NASA’s Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi — are set to climb aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on October 31, roar into space aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, then spend a six months aboard the International Space Station.
Their mission, called Crew-1, will be the first of six round-trip flights that NASA has contracted from SpaceX.
The company tested its human spaceflight capabilities this summer, when it launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on a test flight called Demo-2. That marked the first time humans had flown aboard a commercial spacecraft, and the first time the US had launched its own astronauts since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
Behnken and Hurley named that capsule “Endeavour” after they launched. Now, following that longstanding tradition of naming spacecraft, the astronauts on the upcoming mission gave their new spaceship the name “Resilience” on Tuesday.
“I think all of us can agree that 2020 has certainly been a challenging year: a global pandemic, economic hardships, civil unrest, isolation,” Mike Hopkins, who is commander for that mission, called Crew-1 mission, told reporters in a briefing. “Despite all of that, SpaceX, NASA has kept the production line open and finished this amazing vehicle that’s getting ready to go on its maiden flight to the International Space Station.”
“So the name Resilience is really in honor of the SpaceX and the NASA teams,” Hopkins continued. “And quite frankly, it’s in honor of our families, of our colleagues, of our fellow citizens, of our international partners and our leaders that have all shown that same quality, the same characteristics through these difficult times.”
NASA has funded development and testing of the Crew Dragon through its Commercial Crew Program, a competition that asked private companies to build new astronaut-ready spacecraft. Once the program is complete, the agency will have doled out more than $8 billion in awards and contracts over about a decade.
That expense earned NASA back its human spaceflight capability. Working with commercial partners, according to the agency, will allow the agency to ferry astronauts to and from the space station more frequently, giving it better access to the in-orbit scientific experiments and technology tests it will need to conduct in order to expand to the moon and Mars.
Human-rated commercial spacecraft from SpaceX and Boeing, the other winner of NASA’s competition, will also provide a competitive alternative to the increasingly expensive (and occasionally unreliable) Russian Soyuz rockets that the world’s space agencies have relied on for nearly a decade.
Hopkins said the crew members hope that the name Resilience “provides something positive in your lives.”
“And quite frankly,” he added, “we hope that it’s an inspiration that that it shows when you work together, there is no limit to what you can achieve.”