So far, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon ship is known as a vehicle capable of transporting passengers to the International Space Station, but also as a spacecraft that tourists can use to go into space. This year, astronauts plan to use it for a spacewalk, an event that will take place in the fourth quarter at the earliest.
On Monday February 14, billionaire Jared Isaacman, who was already the commander of Inspiration4, the first 100% civilian space mission, announced a new project in collaboration with SpaceX. The project is called the Polaris Program, and it will consist of three commercial missions culminating in the first manned flight of SpaceX’s Starship.
The Polaris Program’s first mission was dubbed “Polaris Dawn,” and it was during this flight that Isaacman and his companions would attempt the first private spacewalk.
Break the record for the highest orbit
During the Polaris Dawn mission, the objective will not only be to perform a spacewalk. According to reports, the spacecraft, which will spend up to 5 days in orbit, will try to break the record for the highest Earth orbit where humans have flown. This record was set by Gemini 11 astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad and Richard “Dick” Gordon in 1966. These two men were able to reach an altitude of 1,373 km.
With regard to the spacewalk, it will be operated at an altitude of 500 km. We know that at least 2 of the 4 crew members will make the exit. As the Crew Dragon ship does not have a depressurization airlock, the entire cabin will be depressurized. It will also be an opportunity for astronauts to wear SpaceX’s new space suits, improved versions of existing suits.
An opportunity to test
When the ship’s altitude is at its maximum point, it will pass through portions of the Van Allen radiation belt. This trip will thus be an opportunity for the crew to collect data and record the effects of exposure to this radiation on human health.
As a spaceflight is always an opportunity to prepare for the next spaceflight, the Polaris Dawn mission will also serve as a test platform for Starlink’s laser-based communication technology. This new technology will make it possible to have a more robust telecommunications link with the Earth from orbit.
SOURCES: Space.com, Futurism