How tall do you have to be to take SpaceX’s Commercial Crew ‘ride?’
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX has come to be known for its irreverent streak when it comes to its spacecraft and rockets. A recent tweet made by Elon Musk suggests this behavior is likely to continue.
SpaceX is currently working to carry out its Demo Flight 1, the first (uncrewed) test flight of the California-based company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft as early as early February. A recent tweet by Elon Musk suggests that there could be an extra hurdle for crews selected to fly on SpaceX’s spacecraft will need to overcome – a height requirement.
Anyone familiar with amusement park rides likely have seen signs that inform guests as to how tall the must be to ride on their attractions. In another display of Musk’s sense of humor, he posted an image of the Crew Access Arm, connected to the Demo Flight 1 Crew Dragon – with just such a sign in front of it.
The sign appears to be a touch of photoshop trickery but helps add some levity to the stress involved when preparing for such an important test flight. SpaceX has encountered several delays. The government shutdown could have contributed to some of these, but SpaceX appears to be forging ahead anyway.
As noted, SpaceX has made its sense of humor a hallmark of its test flights and the vehicles involved with the company’s efforts. Here are some of the more notable examples of this:
- Musk named its Falcon 9 rocket after the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movie franchise (the “9” represents the 9 Merlin engines in the rocket’s first stage).
- When critics scoffed at SpaceX’s cargo/crew spacecraft as being impossible, the billionaire chose to name the spacecraft “Dragon” after Puff the Magic Dragon, the name of a song by Peter, Paul and Mary).
- During the COTS-1 mission of Dec. 8, 2010 a barrel of Brouère cheese was part of the Dragon demo flight 1’s payload. The cheese was a nod to the 1984 movie that starred Val Kilmer).
- The Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships are used as landing platforms positioned out in either the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Each is named after starships mentioned in “The Player of Games” by sci-fi author Iain M. Banks. As of Jan. 2019, the East Coast ASDS is the Of Course I Still Love You with the West Coast platform being Just Follow The Instructions).
- The maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket in February of 2018 carried Musk’s Tesla Roadster as its payload. It even had a driver in the form of “Starman,” a mannequin in a spacesuit. Besides being funny, the publicity stunt was also historic as it marked the first time that a production car was sent into space.
Musk tweeted on Jan. 6 of this year (2019) that SpaceX’s Demo Flight 1 could lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A as early as the first week of February. If the uncrewed flight goes off without a hitch, NASA astronauts should carry out the first manned flight shortly thereafter.
“I think there’s a growing excitement that every day we are getting closer and closer to launch. Our flight schedules reflect just how close we are,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program stated on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program blog. “The progress has been tremendous, but we still have a lot of work to do. There’s something I repeat constantly, ‘We will fly when we are ready.”
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.