SpaceX capsule is named after the spacecraft that took the first American to space

Freedom. Or, in English, Freedom. That’s the name chosen for SpaceX’s next Crew Dragon to transport astronauts into orbit. This is a reference to the first capsule to take an American into space more than 60 years ago.

According to a company statement, Crew Dragon Freedom will make its debut with the launch of the Crew-4 mission, which will carry NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut. ) Samantha Cristoforetti, to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Alan Shepard was the first American to go into space, and his vehicle was this Mercury capsule, which he named “Freedom 7”. Image: Smithsonian/Mark Avino

“FREEDOM!! Crew-4 will fly to the International Space Station in a new Dragon capsule called ‘Freedom’,” Lindgren posted on Twitter. “The name celebrates a fundamental human right and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.”

“Through the Commercial Crew Program, NASA and SpaceX have restored a national capability and we honor the ingenuity and hard work of those involved. Alan Shepard flew Freedom 7 at the beginning of human spaceflight. We are honored to bring Freedom to a new generation.”

Shepard, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, took off on May 5, 1961 on NASA’s Mercury-Redstone 3 suborbital mission. He chose “Freedom” for the name of his spacecraft in allusion to the Cold War space race between the US and the then Soviet Union. The “7” was due to the capsule being the seventh out of the factory line, although when asked by the press, Shepard later said it was a symbol of camaraderie with his other six Mercury astronauts.

“Freedom 7” is currently in the care of the Smithsonian’s National Aerospace Museum, which plans to display the capsule in its new “Destination Moon” gallery when it opens later this year.

According to Space.com, the museum is also home to the flightless Mercury spacecraft that Shepard unofficially named “Freedom 7 II” in a failed attempt to secure a second Mercury mission.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom takes flight on April 19

The SpaceX Crew Dragon “Freedom” marks the second time a crew has looked to NASA’s past references to name their vehicle. The company’s first capsule to launch astronauts to the ISS was dubbed “Endeavour” after the Demo-2 crew’s first shared trip into space.

“We both made our first flights on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, and it meant a lot to us to continue with that name. So that’s what we decided to go with,” said Doug Hurley, who with Bob Benkhen revealed the name. about three hours after reaching orbit aboard the Cre Dragon “Endeavour” in May 2020. This was also the name of the Apollo 15 command module that orbited the Moon during the fourth lunar landing mission in 1971.

The second Crew Dragon was named “Resilience” as a tribute to the teams at NASA and SpaceX who worked at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to keep the mission moving forward.

In turn, the Crew Dragon “Endurance”, which is now docked in the orbital laboratory, was so named by Crew-3 mission members for a number of reasons, including the tenacity of the human spirit as space exploration efforts move forward in new ways. directions and the historical connection of the name to Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. Shackleton’s “Endurance”, which was recently found at the bottom of the sea, became trapped in the ice, and its crew faced months of hardship before being rescued.

After being assembled at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, Calif., facility, the “Freedom” capsule was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will soon undergo final preparations for the launch of the Crew-4 mission to the space station.

“My entire career, ‘The Sound of Freedom’ has been defined by the noise of jets. Starting April 19, it will be even better,” Crew-4 pilot Hines wrote on Twitter. “We named our spacecraft Freedom, in honor of the freedom we hold dear. Tune in on April 19th to hear Sound of Freedom as Crew-4 launches to the ISS!”

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