Technical glitch: US: SpaceX no-load test is delayed

09 February, 2019, 20:56 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • SpaceX Crew Dragon

There's been another slip in the schedule for NASA's commercial crew program.

Earlier in January, SpaceX completed the first static fire test of its iconic Falcon 9 rocket with the mounted Crew Dragon module at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX's planned test flight of a capsule created to carry astronauts to the International Space Station was pushed back Wednesday by a week, with NASA officials saying liftoff is now set for March 2. The unmanned Demo-1 test flight, will see the astronaut-adapted cargo module fire off into space.

In a statement, NASA said that the initial uncrewed test flight by SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, previously scheduled for no earlier February 23, was now scheduled for no earlier than March 2.

It will also be the first time in history a privately-built spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station.

The first two SpaceX flights will ultimately be "dress rehearsals" for future missions that feature astronauts aboard, according to officials. A crewed test flight, with NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann, and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, is scheduled for no earlier than August. Commercial crew has continued working toward these historic missions throughout the month of January. On its first test flight, the Crew Dragon will aim to make a two-week trip to the ISS without hardware hiccups.

"There still are many critical steps to complete before launch and while we eagerly are anticipating these launches, we will step through our test flight preparations and readiness reviews", explained CCP manager Kathy Lueders.

"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".

If schedules hold, the crewed launches this summer will be the first to take off from US soil carrying humans to low-Earth orbit since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The Starliner capsule, meanwhile, is also undergoing testing.

Now playing: Watch this: NASA taps SpaceX, Boeing to bring space travel back under.

The overall commercial crew program has suffered extensive delays.

Unlike approaches by unpiloted Dragon cargo ships, which halt their approaches just short of the station and wait for the lab's robot arm to lock on and pull them in for berthing, the Crew Dragon will fly a computer-guided rendezvous all the way to docking at a modified port at the front of the space station.



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