Ground control to Ripley? SpaceX’s Crew Dragon test dummy has finally got a name: Ripley, after the female heroin, Ellen Ripley, in the “Alien” movie franchise.
Though the unpiloted capsule will not carry any actual people on board, the SpaceX spacesuit-wearing mannequin will be able to gauge the environmental conditions for when astronauts are on board the vehicle.
“I said dummy, it’s actually a ‘smarty,’ ” Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX said at a pre-launch briefing Thursday at Kennedy Space Center. “It has lots of sensors on it.”
The Anthropomorphic Test Dummy, or ATD, will hitch a ride on one of the seven passenger seats aboard the spacecraft set to launch at 2:49 a.m. Saturday from Kennedy Space Center pad 39A as it makes its way to the International Space Station.
“It will measure forces, acceleration and the environment itself,” Koenigsmann said. “The goal is to get an idea of how humans will feel in her place, basically.”
This is the first uncrewed flight test for SpaceX and for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program designed to take astronauts once again to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.
Though no surprises are expected, SpaceX wants to verify that the capsule is safe and comfortable for when it eventually hosts astronauts.
“This data is really invaluable,” NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders said at the briefing. “The crew environment and seeing how the seat attenuation, how well the seats attenuate and protect the crew members and the overall vehicle is really, really critical for us.”
Like Falcon Heavy’s launch last year, which provided videos of SpaceX’s “Starman” mannequin in the driver’s seat of CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla, SpaceX will also have videos inside Crew Dragon to give the perspective one would have if they were inside the vehicle.
Upon a successful mission and if SpaceX passes all reviews and tests, the Space Coast could see a crewed mission no earlier than July, the first since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
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- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: Crew Dragon Demonstration Mission 1
- Launch Time: 2:49 a.m.
- Launch Window: Instantaneous
- Launch Complex: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Landing: Yes, Of Course I Still Love You drone ship
- Weather: 80 percent “go”
Join floridatoday.com for countdown updates and chat starting at 1 a.m. Saturday, including streaming of SpaceX’s launch webcast about 30 minutes before liftoff.