SpaceX and NASA did it! They launched the first astronauts in a privately owned rocket into Space and this is going to be a turning point in the history of space exploration. Along with that, the two astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley also became the first pilots to operate a spaceship using touchscreen controls.
Instead of all the complicated controls seen previously on Apollo models, Crew Dragon just has three large-screen touch panels and some spare buttons at the bottom. So, when manual control would be required, the pilots would do it using a video-game style interface on the screens.
Both Behnken and Hurley were given test rides on Saturday afternoon by SpaceX to ensure that everything was running smoothly.
If you saw the live stream, you would know how simple yet magical the moment of their launch was because the technology we use to scroll and like pictures on Instagram was operating an entire spacecraft into the ISS.
Even though the test drives were successful, Behnken noticed that the thermal camera view of the Earth was briefly cut out as Hurley tried to move the spacecraft. The technicians said that it was normal because the spacecraft was just launched and it takes time for it to reach thermal equilibrium.
The thing we are most interested in is that Behnken and Hurley might be the only human species going from Earth, but there was in fact a third passenger in the spacecraft. If you did not see the live stream, then tucked in between one of the seats of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was a stuffed dinosaur.
Behnken and Hurley both have sons who love dinosaurs. Before the flight, they gathered their stuffed toys and asked their fathers to take them to space. Only one dinosaur called Tremor with a sparkly exterior was selected, though.
“That was a super cool thing for us to get a chance to do for both of our sons who I hope are super excited to see their toys floating around with us on board,” Behnken said during a tour of the capsule in orbit. “I’m sure they would rather be here, given the opportunity, but hopefully they’re proud of this as well.”
The toy was present during the launch on Wednesday and Saturday and geophysicist Mika McKinnon tweeted that it was a TY Flippable Tremor Dinosaur.
It is actually quite common for astronauts to take toys in the Space because they are unbuckled to let the pilots know that they have reached zero gravity. Previously, the ISS crew took Little Earth or “Earthy” with them on a mission and it was so popular with the masses that it became a permanent part of the spacecraft.
Last year, Behnken said that he was looking forward to meeting Earthy. “Hopefully he can walk us through the emergency brief and he’s a full-fledged station crew member by the time that we get there,” Behnken said in an interview last March.