Space Launch Services Provider Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) are currently working together to safely return the former Dragon 2 Endeavor to Earth as part of the Demo-2 (DM-2) mission seeking the capabilities of the spacecraft evaluate to meet NASA criteria for the safe delivery and return of astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS).
After astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were disengaged from the ISS earlier today, the pair were led by mission control in Houston, Texas and Hawthorne, California to update their timelines for the various steps required to get the spacecraft back to the earth. During this guidance, an Apple iPad that helped the astronauts manage their timelines was not working properly and was trying to connect to the internet while the pair returned.
SpaceX Dragon 2 Endeavor Astronaut Robert Behken’s iPad functions somewhat during timeline review
About an hour and a half after the two astronauts were successfully decoupled from the ISS and started their journey to Earth, astronaut Behnken was asked by Space Men’s Crew Operations and Resources Engineer (CORE) Anna Menon to update his timeline for the remaining mission . This requirement was part of requests the engineer made to the crew, including asking for details of their food and water consumption and post-meal movement in their evening meal report and informing SpaceX about their sleeping preferences.
As part of updating the schedule for Day 1, the crew was asked to add six minutes to six events that were part of their schedule and to advance their fluid intake schedule by 15 minutes. Following the request for an update on the consumption of meals and water, the astronauts provided the ground control with the information.
Immediately afterwards, Behnken started to report a problem with a device, but ground control in Hawthorne briefly lost contact with the Dragon 2 spacecraft, with the engineer looking nervously to the left and looking at the main screens in her control room as the connection was restored. Once this happened, the astronaut
Yes, the timeline application on my tablet … um … gives me an … error that says’ Safari cannot open the page ‘and then it has an HTML address …’ because your iPad is not connected to internet ‘
Once it became clear that the problem was minor, Ms. Menon asked astronaut Behnken to confirm that airplane mode was turned on on his iPad and that WiFi was turned off – to which he applied affirmatively. He then sent a picture of the problem to the mission check and the on-site team looked closely at the error.
At this time, it is unclear whether the application on the iPad was developed by Apple or by SpaceX or another developer. Given SpaceX’s predilection for keeping things under its own management, the application was probably developed internally. Behnken provided more details on the matter and revealed that
This happens on my tablet. I already had a nice timeline, but when we started navigating to the settings to … load the changes you read to us, it went to that page instead of the timeline I had before
If the application in question was not developed by Apple, the error is likely due to an external bug over which the company had no control. For a mission that included hundreds of complex variables and advanced technology, such an error is usually insignificant because it requires an astronaut to just keep things in his memory or make a physical note. An hour and a half after the error, the astronauts officially began their dormant period as they approached Earth for return and splash.