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SpaceX Crew Dragon vs Boeing Starliner Explained



SpaceX Crew Dragon vs Boeing Starliner Explained

and liftoff of Endeavour since the space shells retirement in the United States hasnt had the capability to transport crew to orbit instead weve been relying on the Russian Soyuz for almost a decade while we rushed to develop alternatives the Commercial Crew providers are now on the verge of completing development of the two crewed lowearth orbit space ships crew dragon and a Boeing cst100 Starliner and today well be comparing them headtohead and this episode is sponsored by me I need more dot space slash shop if you want to help support me doing more of this type of storytelling just pick up a shirt it would really mean a lot and I do try really hard to make shirt designs that I think people would like to wear around so if you want to support more episodes like this please consider buying a shirt from I need more dot space slash shop back to the episode after the consolation program NASAs replacement for the space shuttle collapse because of a variety of reasons the United States crude exploration program was left with the SLS and the Commercial Crew program NASA would focus on deepspace exploration while private industry would take over low Earth orbit transportation NASA would help develop and fund the capsules and then become their customers to buy flights on these capsules as needed the companies were then free to sell commercial flights on these capsules to private customers tourist corporations or even countries that lack their own crude spaceflight capability NASA would gain autonomous access to the ISS from the US again and the spaceflight companies would raise profits and fund development of better space technology and services it was a winwin situation the investment paid off and the companies end up creating two amazing modern crew capsules and liftoff the rise of star liner and a new era in human spaceflight first lets take a look at Boeings cst100 Starliner its a capsule with a truncated cone shape similar to other historic us capsules

SpaceX Crew Dragon vs Boeing Starliner Explained

 its a bit larger than the Apollo command module but smaller than the next generation Orion being developed by Lockheed Martin the capsule can carry up to seven passengers to lowearth orbit although NASA will use it in a configuration that has four seats and some cargo carrying capability this lighter features an interior similar in design characteristics to Boeings commercial aircraft specifically the dreamliner it has a full range of manual controls and largest blaze that display a ton of crucial data however these will be largely unused because the capsule is designed for autonomous operation and will be able to rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station all by itself at IAC I did have the pleasure of sitting in a Star liner simulator and docked the ship on my very first try after a quick explainer by a Boeing rep I did notice that the control interface clearly had space shuttle heritage down to the same exact switch models flown on the orbiters it was good to see manual toggle switch is available in case of emergency the capsule itself features a ton of new innovations that truly make it a 21st century spacecraft such as a completely wellness design with interlocking parts this ensures consistency and eliminates a large part of the unreliability zz introduced by welding it also has reusable command module thrusters for maneuvering it also has a separate service module a sheet of static solar panels are mounted at the base to power the spacecrafts electronic subsystems it has a lot of thrusters on board built by Aerojet Rocketdyne including OMD thrusters which are used for supporting orbital maneuvers and attitude control in case of a low altitude launch abort and RCS thrusters renewing and providing reboosts to the international space station it also includes the pusher style launch abort system or L is powered by the RS Phantom engines they use hydrazine hypergolic propellant and although it is admittedly very toxic and ensures an instant up from the engines that carry the capsule to safety in case of an anomaly during the launch the tanks carrying the hydrazine and hydrogen tetroxide are also present within the service module the service module is attached during the entire course of the spacecrafts mission and separated just before reentry exposing the crew modules heat shield it then burns up in the Earths atmosphere and is expended with every flight star liners landing sequence begins with the deorbit burn and Riaan after slowing down because of the atmospheric drag while being stabilized by the onboard thrusters it deploys its drogue parachutes and ejects the heat shield before landing exposing the airbags the main parachutes deployed slowing it down further and the airbags inflates provide a soft touch down on the sandy desert expanse of the US Armys White Sands Missile Range to one watch now lets look at space Xs capsule by SpaceX had developed the uncrewed Dragon capsule for cargo transport to the International Space Station under NASAs CRS contract this had been an extremely critical as well as lucrative deal for SpaceX and allowed them to fund the rest of their development the next logical step was to scale this proven design for an earth orbit capsule that can safely deliver and return cargo in a crewed transportation vehicle for NASAs Commercial Crew program the initial prototypes of the capsule were simply the dragon one design with added thruster pods for the launch abort system this however was not the final design on the 30th of May Elon unveiled the Dragon capsule also known as crew dragon and it whats something like this the capsule was a sleek black and white pod that looked like something out of a scifi movie a lot like this now the interior was spacious and UNCHR and the seats were minimalistic for massive touchscreens folded down from the top with all of the controls available and telemetry presented in neat animations it was a 21st century spaceship but it wasnt just a facelift SpaceX in their typical fashion had done something entirely insane with their new project the thruster pods wouldnt just provide an abort mode instead theyd be capable of propulsively landing the capsule anywhere on the planet and beyond with considerable precision new engines called the super Dracos were under development powered by hydrazine and completely 3d printed out of a canal eight of these highly throttle hypergolic engines would enable the powered descent and lamed the control surfaces of Dragon are largely touchscreen with very few physical switches now there are many benefits to this design for instance as the operations of crew dragon evolve they can do updates to control interfaces by just a software patch rather than physically reconfiguring switches and dials adding cost and complications the drawback well for now at least is largely using unproven technology and touchscreens for essential spaceflight functions but Im sure thats something that will be part of spaceflights future Im not worried spacex is planed to use the dragon to slash crew dragon variant for a mission to the martian surface they called it red dragon the red dragon capsule will be launched on a Falcon Heavy into a transmars injection trajectory it would then arrow break into Marss atmosphere in land propulsively it would carry experiments payloads or even Rovers to preemptively Scout mission sites in the future however things change drastically for dragons future the landing legs that popped out of the heat shield proved to be difficult to qualify for NASAs crew safety requirements they werent massive fans of the propulsive landing method either and prefer traditional parachutes as the primary landing method SpaceX had been counting on NASA support for red dragon development and possibly contracts for lander missions without any prospects of landing dragons on earth or Mars SpaceX stopped development for the propulsive landing technology for it instead they decided to accelerate development on their larger nextgen Martian rocket which eventually became starship dragon would now use parachute systems to land the super Draco engine would simply be used now as the abort engines the capsule would splashdown in the ocean like the older Gemini and Apollo capsules and unlike the Starliner it wont be reused for crude spaceflight however it will still be modified to be used as a cargo resupply ship for the CRS to contract and replace the existing dragon one fleet you might also notice something that looks very much like a service module on the crew dragon but in fact it is not its called the trunk and it really has four main jobs the first job being to hold the solar panels the second to hold the radiators that help keep the spacecraft cool the third being the place that the winglets are in the event of a launch abort scenario and the fourth and which is my opinion one of the most fascinating aspects of it is an unpressurized cargo hold very much like with a space shuttle hat which allows crew dragon to bring supplies exterior modules or experiments to the space station that would be accessed via the Canada arm an American flag was flown on the very first space shuttle mission sts1 on the orbiter Columbia in April when Atlantis flew the final shuttle mission sts135 in July of to the International Space Station its fleet helped build it carried the same flag and left it on board the next crew to fly to the ISS from American soil would retrieve this flag and return it to earth as a symbolic gesture this is fueled a race between the two companies to get to the ISS first a capture the flag if you will this race however has been characterized by a ton of unexpected development challenges for both the providers in July Boeing Starliner was undergoing tests in its abort systems when the hypergolic propellant began leaking from the spacecraft because of a series of faulty valves this was a critical issue and delayed the orbital test flight by more than a year during the pad abort test early in one of the three main parachutes just failed to deploy this was a cause for concern but the test was still declared as a success however the anomaly that occurred during its orbital flight test is quite a serious setback the capsule was launched into a lower orbital trajectory instead of a stable orbit so that if an anomaly occurs the crew can easily do orbit using the onboard thrusters rather than having to be stuck in orbit after separation the capsule is supposed to perform a series of orbit raising burns to get it to the ISS and rendezvous the capsule names Calypso portrayed as Atlass daughter in Greek mythology lifted off on top of the United Launch alliances Atlas five rocket in a new n22 configuration which performed nominally n22 meaning inferno fairing two solid rocket motors and twocent or upper stage engines after a successful separation however it became firing its thrusters quite a bit leading to a rapid fuel consumption a subsequent investigation revealed that the capsules onboard computers had picked up the wrong mission elapsed time from the Atlas and as a result its clock was delayed by hours it thought that it was in the middle of performing an orbit raising burn even though the main engines werent firing and began using its thrusters to keep the capsule stable it also happened to being between two tracking and data relay satellites which meant it could not receive its commands from the ground when controllers finally regained communication with Starliner it had lost way too much fuel a one of people have reached the ISS and docking was out of the question it was in an off nominal orbit with weird parameters and was eventually deorbited and brought back down to earth through entry and landing was successful now this was an embarrassing flaw for a craft that cost billions to develop however Boeings astronauts do seem eager to test the capsule out on its crude flight now SpaceX has had its own share of problems with abort systems and parachutes now once the repulsive landing program was cancelled parachutes became the primary landing mode however a test in had shown undesirable results and so the parachutes had to undergo a redesign and NASA required drop tests to qualify them now the orbital flight test for SpaceX had gone perfectly the capsule launched perfectly on a falcon block docked with the ISS had a massively successful series of live streams featuring an absolutely adorable earth plush and returned its passenger a test dummy called ripley wearing a spacex suit safely to earth however the most concerning failure came after this the dam1 capsule from this mission was undergoing some thruster tests at Cape Canaveral then it suddenly exploded a red nitrous plume of nitrous tetroxide billowed into the sky and could be seen from all around a video of the incident leaked showing the capsule get ripped apart from an internal explosion making it a very sensational and public failure an investigation began looking for the probable cause and after a few months it was revealed that it had very specific source turns out the video the only thing thatd leaked a faulty check valve allowed some nitrogen tetroxide to flow the wrong way and form a slug of sorts when the system was pressurized with the helium prior to ignition the slug was accelerated straight to the titanium valve damaging it and igniting it which led to the explosive failure the valve has since been replaced with a burst disc and the system has since been verified by the inflight abort test which was awesome now lets note that spacex receives billion dollars to develop crude dragon while boeing received billion dollars to develop Starliner now boeing defended this by saying that spacex had already flying cargo capsule that they were just modifying into a crude version while they had to from scratch now SpaceX had chosen to perform additional testing on its systems while Boeings route involved more simulations and paperwork for qualifying onboard systems this represents a fundamental distinction between their approaches and possibly the effects are reflected in their failures if Boeing had performed more realworld testing a simulation errors such as a clock issue on Starliner may have been avoided similarly if SpaceX had spent a little bit more time qualifying their parts they would have noticed that putting titanium near nitrogen tetroxide isnt the best idea and is a known failure mode that has affected spacecraft in the past oh and if youre flying on dragon you get to wear this and if youre flying on Starliner you get to wear this so now that weve gone over both spacecraft lets go over some of their technical specs that you will probably find interesting the SpaceX crew dragon has the ability to carry seven astronauts to lowearth orbit but NASA is opting for four or even three seats to the International Space Station because they want more room for pressurized cargo it can survive on its own in low Earth orbit for one week or two hundred ten days docked to the International Space Station it can carry six thousand kilograms or pounds to orbit as well as bring three thousand kilograms or sixty six hundred pounds back it can have up to cubic feet of unpressurized space with the extended that is a lot more opportunity to carry cargo Boeing Starliner has some very similar attributes to the SpaceX crew dragon for free flight it can survive up to hours in low Earth orbit not as long as crew dragon but still a few days plenty of time to get to the International Space Station or any other point in lowearth orbit once docked to the space station it could stay up there for days because it enters a passive mode it can also carry up to seven crew members with NASA also again doing or crew members to the International Space Station taking that extra space for cargo and it has no uncompressed storage area the crewed flight tests for both of these capsules are coming up soon the US will have its own crewed spaceflight capability again opening up many more possibilities for missions apart from the missions to the ISS we may be seeing them being used for a variety of other purposes maybe foreign governments will be interested in buying seats for their cruise to lowearth orbit maybe therell be transport researchers or tourists or engineers to private space stations in lowearth orbit maybe well see them being used to transport crew to cyclers head into the moon or even Mars so who knows Im just excited to see crews launching from Cape Canaveral on American spaceships again so what do you think about the Commercial Crew program who do you think has a better chance of reaching the International Space Station first dragon or Starliner wait Boeings got to do what ok ok well this is what happens when you film a video a month before it goes out turns out Boeing needs to read a million lines of their software to recertify their spacecraft for you know human or crude spaceflight and thats likely gonna push back first crewed launch I know roughly probably about a year so I think its pretty safe to say SpaceX is gonna when they capture the flag competition but this is actually a really good teachable moment we can talk about right now this is one of the reasons why NASA wanted multiple providers for the Commercial Crew program for events like this if you look back to the Columbia and the Challenger accidents when the Space Shuttle was down it basically just shut down the entire human space operations for NASA thats because they had one launch vehicle one of the things NASA and their international partners learned from the Space Shuttle is that you need multiple options for access to space which is why its been so valuable to have the the Cygnus resupply craft the SpaceX cargo dragon the Russian progress vehicle and the the Japanese vehicle which escapes my memory but regardless you need multiple options for access to space and the same thing needs to be for crew and NASA was hoping that you know if the event that something happened on a Boeing spacecraft they still have a SpaceX spacecraft to still be able to access the space station on a regular basis and viceversa god forbid something happen with the SpaceX crew dragon they still add Starliner to lean on as well as the Russian Soyuz so youd have youd go from one way to access the station with human crews to three so now were missing Starliner its gonna take a while and Boeing is very aware of their mistake but I was gonna put a poll about which one do you think is gonna win to the space station or wick and when they capture the flag but I think we know whos gonna win that race but I still have hope for Boeing and anyways lets get back to the episode let me know in the poll above now lets have a discussion in the comments about the commercial crewed spaceflight and if you think its the right way for missions to go farther into space do you think NASA made the right choices all those years ago or do you still miss the shuttle Id love to hear your thoughts if you want to learn more about space history and just see cool space stuff feel free to follow me on twitter im at TJ underscore Cooney and please feel free to subscribe and just follow me on myspace storytelling journey here on I need more space I cant wait to see whats coming ahead thank you for watching and Ill see you guys next time bye you '
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