Nasa says SpaceX's Crew Dragon is ready to fly to space station

26 February, 2019, 11:12 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • NASA gives go-ahead for SpaceX commercial crew test flight

Next week's mission is considered a critical milestone in NASA's $6.8 billion Commercial Crew Program, meant to end the agency's reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, now the only operational astronaut-transportation system in the world since the space shuttle's retirement eight years ago.

"One of the things the composite overwrap pressure vessel has (are) fibers that are twisted together", Gerstenmaier said.

"It's exciting to have set the launch for March 2nd", said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, during the conference. The Crew Dragon doesn't have this function.

"We want to maximize our learning so when. we're ready to go do a real crewed mission, and it'll be the right safety for our crews".

SpaceX will launch the Falcon 9 with the Crew Dragon capsule from NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A at 2:49 a.m. Saturday.

"That's the basic concern the Russians brought up, why isn't there a separate system or separate box to go provide this backup capability?" Anticipating potential weather or technical issues, SpaceX should have three opportunities to launch between March 2 and March 9, but if it misses this window it's not clear when the company would have another attempt. Those and other risks present "serious challenges" to SpaceX's launch schedule, including a possible manned flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft this summer.

The station's crew - Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian physician-astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA flight engineer Anne McClain - will open hatches and inspect the new spacecraft a few hours after docking. The private company had to overhaul its cargo capsule for astronauts.

NASA has waited a long time for this moment, since July, 2011, when the space shuttle made its final flight and the agency retired the venerable vehicles.

Both Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon unmanned missions were earlier scheduled for 2018 launch, but were delayed due to lack of clearance by NASA.

NASA has awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion, and aerospace rival Boeing Co $4.2 billion to build separate rocket and capsule launch systems to carry USA astronauts to and from the space station, an orbital research laboratory that flies 250 miles (402 km) above Earth. Boeing won a $4.2 billion contract to build the CST-100.



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