The two NASA astronauts, who launched SpaceX's first crewed dragon capsule today, have named their spacecraft, continuing a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of American space efforts.
"I know most of you, especially at SpaceX, know it as Capsule 206," said Hurley a few hours after the launch over a room-to-ground video connection. "But I think we all thought maybe we could do a little better. We would therefore like to welcome you on board the Endeavor capsule without further ado. "
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Hurley said the name was chosen to recognize the "incredible endeavor" that SpaceX and NASA did after the space shuttle fleet stepped down in 2011.
He and his crewmate Bob Behnken also have a personal relationship with the name. "We both had our first flights on the Shuttle Endeavor, and it just meant so much to us to keep that name going," said Hurley.
The Endeavor Space Shuttle, now on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, is not the only precedent for the new name of the Crew Dragon: the Apollo 15 command module went to the moon in 1971was also called Endeavor. Apollo 15 commander David Scott said this name was chosen in honor of HMS Endeavor, the 18th-century British explorer James Cook's research vessel.
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Another pet name was unveiled today. It is a tradition that space planes bring a plush toy or piece of jewelry on board their spacecraft to serve as a zero G indicator when weightlessness sets in during space travel. Behnken said his son and Hurley's son chose a sequin plush dinosaur called Tremor to become the mission's stowaway.
This is not a surprise Tremor was quickly sold out on Amazon: The same thing happened last year when a Plush planet earth was hidden on board a robotic crew kite as a zero-G indicator for an unscrewed test flight to the International Space Station and back. Endeavor is scheduled to dock with the space station on Sunday.
Here are a few other treats from Crew Dragon's launch day:
- During a post-launch press conference, Kathy Lueders, NASA's commercial crew program manager, discovered that Hurley and Behnken had been nicknamed Dads. That "could have something to do with her age," she said. "I can say that because they are in orbit," she added. "It will be a few months before they come back and kick me."
- Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, was asked when his company's Starship super-rocket, which is currently under development, is expected to make its first flight around the moon. Musk replied that he wanted it to happen, but admitted that he tended to struggle to meet deadlines. "I would be surprised if it took more than four years," he said. SpaceX will receive $ 135 million from NASA to support the first phase of Starship's development as a potential lunar lander, which is expected to be used for NASA's Artemis missions in 2024.
- Musk noted that SpaceX was founded 18 years ago to fly people into space, and said that the goal has now been achieved. But he also said the company's ultimate goal is to make humanity a multi-net species by making it possible to build a city on Mars. "We have to make life interplanetary," said Musk. “I urge the public to support this goal and to think about it. … we have to do it. "