SpaceX is slated to make its comeback to Earth this weekend. For Jean-François Clervoy, former astronaut of the European Space Agency, this landing, which could be delayed for a few hours by the weather, marks the beginning "of a new era of transport service and crew exchange of the 'ISS, on private commercial basis ".
"The return is as critical as the climb"
SpaceX is going to have to achieve another feat. After a successful flight to the International Space Station last May, the capsule must now descend to earth. As Jean-François Clervoy explains, "the return is as critical as the climb, it is never a formality, even with a vessel like the Soyuz, which has been in existence for more than 50 years. C It is always tricky because you have to enter the atmosphere at the right angle, in the right place. Until the last moment the heat shield must work well, the orientation of the ship must be well piloted. "
Added to this are the climatic conditions. In Florida, where SpaceX is to land, a hurricane threatens. "The weather is always a final decision factor. On my own flights, my return has been delayed by a few orbits or a few days. There they have seven landing sites planned over a very large area so hopefully there are will have some areas that will be favorable and until the last moment SpaceX and Nasa reserve the right to postpone the return ".
"An extremely modern capsule"
Jean-François Clervoy explains that "unlike all capsule-type vessels, from which the astronauts are extracted as soon as they touch the ground. There the crew will stay in the capsule until it is winched on the deck. of a ship. " More broadly, "it is an extremely modern capsule in which computers are trusted much more than before, since there is no switch. It is a very automated capsule with very few possibilities of intervention during the climb, including in orbit. But if you have to take manual control, it is possible ".
But it is something else that should revolutionize space transport, if the landing goes well: "This is the first time that a capsule-type vessel is supposed to be reused, the only one before that, it is the shuttle American space. It is a capsule derived from the dragon capsule, which was only an automatic freighter and which it was used several times ". Enough to revolutionize space transport because, "if all goes well, the first flight with a spare crew from the ISS will take place in September and next March we will have two Americans, a Japanese and a European, a Frenchman: Thomas Pesquet ", specifies Jean-François Clervoy.