On May 27, the first operational flight of SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program is planned. It is a historic event for the American space program as it will be the first manned launch from the United States after the closure of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
In preparation for the mission, SpaceX created a browser simulator for docking the manned spacecraft Crew Dragon with the ISS. Now, everyone can feel like a NASA astronaut and dock Crew Dragon with the International Space Station.
NASA announced the crew of the first manned mission, Crew Dragon, in 2018. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will be the first to fly on Crew Dragon to develop and assess the spacecraft's control system. They will stay in orbit for at least a month (the maximum mission can last 119 days).
One of the essential distinguishing features of Crew Dragon is that all stages of its docking with the station are automated. In particular, the ship dockes independently even at the last stage, while usually, the Canadarm2 robot is used for this on the ISS.
The upcoming flight of the Crew Dragon with astronauts will also take place fully automatically. But, of course, the ability to switch to manual control is provided.
This simulator is an exact copy of the real interface for controlling the process of docking a ship. The simulator is quite simple, it has special buttons for aligning the ship's orientation vertically and horizontally, and all that is needed for control is patience.
The head of NASA, James Bridenstine, has already tested the simulator and boasted that he managed to dock the Crew Dragon and the ISS from the first try.
Crew Dragon was developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will send astronauts to the ISS without the use of Russian Soyuz spacecraft and for much less money. Now, NASA pays about $80 million for one seat. It is expected that one place at Crew Dragon will cost $20 million with the possibility of further cheapening due to the reuse of Crew Dragon.
Recently, NASA published a short teaser of the upcoming Demo-2 mission with interesting facts on its YouTube channel.