SpaceX is performing some upgrades on its new Crew Dragon spacecraft, adding touchscreens so that astronauts going to the International Space Station receive some next-gen SpaceX innovation.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first astronauts to take off in the Dragon capsule, headed up to the International Space Station, and will now get to tweak and play around with a touchscreen versus buttons and dials of yesteryear.
In a recent press interview with NASA, Behnken explained: « It’s probably a dream of every test pilot school student to have the opportunity to fly on a brand-new spaceship, and I’m lucky enough to get that opportunity with my good friend here ».
The two astronauts have spent « countless hours » in simulators, but they have been working hand-in-hand with SpaceX from « the early days ». Hurley explained: « It was on the order of at least 5 or 6 years ago that we went out to SpaceX and evaluated a bunch of different control mechanisms. They were looking at every which way of flying the vehicle, and ultimately they decided on a touchscreen interface ».
Hurley continued: « Of course, you know, growing up as a pilot my whole career, having a certain way to control the vehicle, this is certainly different. But we went into it with a very open mind, I think, and worked with them to define the way you interface with it — the way your touches actually registered on the display, in order to be able to fly it cleanly and not make mistakes touching it, not potentially putting in a wrong input ».
On the left is the Russian Soyuz capsule, with countless buttons and dials — on the right, SpaceX Crew Dragon and the new touchscreens.
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World news – US – SpaceX drops buttons and dials, Dragon spacecraft has touchscreens