Crew Dragon: SpaceX has enough experience to fly cosmonauts, says Roscosmos

These days in the United Arab Emirates the 72nd International Astronautical Congress is being held where both space agencies from all over the world but also the various companies working in the aerospace field have gathered. It was during one of the conferences that an important statement came from Dmitry Rogozin, general manager of Roscosmos, who confirmed his will to fly cosmonauti on the capsules SpaceX Crew Dragon.

The story arises initially from the choice of NASA in recent years of not wanting to depend on others (especially Russia) for astronaut launches to ISS. After the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the US space agency sought an alternative route which then evolved into financing the launches of commercial partners (such as SpaceX and Boeing). A first indication of the choice of Roscosmos had already been aired in November 2020.

Of the cosmonauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon: it is no longer just a hypothesis

Currently on Crew Dragon from SpaceX astronauts from NASA (USA), JAXA (Japan) and ESA (Europe) flew. Cosmonauts, on the other hand, have always used the reliable Soyuz spacecraft that can be launched from cosmodromes under Russian control.

Rogozin stated that the capsule developed by Elon Musk’s company has achieved an excellent degree of safety and experience and therefore could also be used by cosmonauts. “From our point of view, SpaceX has already gained enough experience to be able to put our cosmonauts on the Crew Dragon” said the general manager.

As already assumed in the past, in the coming months we could see “an exchange” between NASA and Roscosmos of seats on board the spacecraft. So a NASA astronaut could fly (again) aboard a Soyuz and a Roscosmos cosmonaut could fly (for the first time) aboard a capsula Crew Dragon.

The agreement has not yet been officially signed. These words, combined with the exchanges that have taken place in these days (and in the months that follow) could lead to this result. In the future, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner could also be added to the fleet, once it is certified for human flight.

An issue with Crew Dragon’s space toilets during Inspiration4

While Rogozin talked about the abilities of SpaceX in the realization of its capsule a problem emerged that occurred during the Inspiration4 mission. This is a design flaw of Crew Dragon. This did not directly endanger the crew but will still be resolved on all current and future units.

As reported

, SpaceX consultant Bill Gerst confirmed that during the Inspiration4 mission a failure has occurred on the toilette present inside the capsule.

Schematic of a Crew Dragon toilet with the old scheme (

)

A tube used to send astronauts’ urine into a container has broken. This caused the liquid to go against a fan which sprayed it under the floor of the capsule. The crew did not notice anything as the urine was not directly visible and no real problems were recorded.

To prevent this accident from happening again, the system has been redesigned to avoid having glued pipes. Also there Crew Dragon currently docked at ISS suffers from the same problem, as confirmed by SpaceX. In addition to the drawbacks related to hygiene, there is also that of contact between urine and potassium peroxymonosulfate which is nearby.

The combination of the compounds can be corrosive to aluminum, fortunately an alloy used in Crew Dragon it is very resistant to corrosion. In the near future there will be no more problems of this type on board the capsule SpaceX.

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