March 1, 2024

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The Polaris Dawn private astronaut mission has been postponed to mid-2024

The Polaris Dawn private astronaut mission has been postponed to mid-2024

WASHINGTON — A special astronaut mission that will include the first spacewalk from the Crew Dragon spacecraft has been hit by another delay, this time to at least the middle of this year.

The Polaris program, a series of private astronaut missions backed by billionaire Jared Isaacman, announced on February 8 that the Polaris Dawn mission is scheduled to take place no later than the summer. The program had previously announced its launch date in April.

“The additional time continues to provide the necessary development time to ensure the completion of these mission objectives and the safe launch and return of Dragon and crew.” to publish On social media.

These goals are highlighted by a spacewalk, the first from a Crew Dragon spacecraft. This requires the development of an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) spacesuit that can be used outside the spacecraft, as well as modifications to the Crew Dragon, which lacks an airlock, to allow its cabin to be depressurized before a spacewalk and then recompressed after a spacewalk. .

Isaacman had previously said that the work was more difficult than expected, which contributed to the delay. “The @PolarisProgram training week was very intense. In addition to the simulation, we spent a lot of time zip-lined in emergency EVA suits. There is a lot to get done, but momentum seems to be building.” to publish January 26.

According to industry sources, SpaceX has dramatically downplayed the work to convert the pressure suit astronauts currently wear inside the Crew Dragon into an EVA suit. When SpaceX and the Polaris Program announced the Polaris Dawn mission two years ago, they expected a launch as early as the fourth quarter of 2022.

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, in Power point To the company's employees posted online on January 12, she hinted at the difficulties in developing the spacesuit. “We have to redesign the suit so you can actually move in it,” he said. “It's very difficult to stay mobile in an inflated suit.”

The company is using the Polaris Dawn mission to test the suit that the company plans for future missions. “This will be an important milestone,” he said. “Having a highly mobile spacesuit that is not very expensive, ideally, and that you can walk around comfortably in is a great thing. It's actually something important that needs to be developed and eventually manufactured in large numbers.”

Neither SpaceX nor Polaris have released photos of the suits, though Isaacman described them as “heavier and bulkier” than current Dragon pressure suits. All four crew members will wear the suits, including those who remain inside Dragon, and the suits will replace the pressure suits worn during launch and re-entry.

In addition to the spacewalk, the mission will test inter-satellite communications using optical links between the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Starlink satellites. The mission, which will last up to five days, will also conduct health research, including studies of the radiation environment at altitudes of up to 1,400 kilometres, higher than any manned mission since the Apollo 17 mission to the moon in 1972.