SpaceX Tests Crew Dragon Spacecraft with Simulated Manikin Named “Ripley”
Fans of “Aliens” will be in on the joke, as “Ripley” is the name of the the name of the space-suited manikin aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon that launched Saturday, a hat tip to Ellen Ripley, the heroine of the sci-fi movie series. CNN and other news agencies reported this weekend on how Ripley’s not just along for the ride: The anthropomorphic test device, as NASA calls it, is there to make sure the Crew Dragon is safe and comfortable for humans. The robot is “fitted with sensors around the head, neck and spine to record everything an astronaut would experience throughout the mission,” Anna Heiney wrote in a NASA blog. “From liftoff to splashdown, essentially she’s going to tell us how she feels during the whole mission,” a SpaceX senior dynamics engineer says in an informational video. Let’s take a closer look at this simulated manikin Ripley — especially through the video shared via the SpaceX twitter feed below!
On 2:49 a.m. EST on March 2, SpaceX launched Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This test flight without crew on board the spacecraft is intended to demonstrate SpaceX’s capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
SpaceX’s Dragon Crew spacecraft has completed its maiden journey, paving the way for the US company to take humans into space for the first time. The capsule docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. It was carrying a manikin named Ripley, along with supplies for the three astronauts who are currently resident in orbit. On Friday, it will undock and return to Earth, parachuting into the Atlantic Ocean. NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to take its astronauts to the ISS since 2011, when the space shuttle ceased operations. If the return journey goes smoothly, SpaceX could fly two NASA astronauts to the ISS in July, marking the first human launch from US soil in almost a decade. (Source: NewScientist)
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 2, 2019
That’s Dragon is the first commercially operated spacecraft designed to carry astronauts, and the un-crewed demonstration mission to the International Space Station is a test to make sure everything works before humans are rocketed into space in the capsule. It docked Sunday at the space station. If all goes well, SpaceX’s first crewed mission, which will fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, could happen by July, according to NASA’s most recent schedule.
“Looking forward to meeting her in person in a couple days,” Anne McClain, an astronaut on the International Space Station, tweeted in response to SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s tweet of Ripley. Read the full CNN Article on Ripley.
Clearly SpaceX follows NASA’s example of utilizing simulation and simulated tools to test functionality and put theory into practice, which further supports the continued development of simulation in healthcare!