Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Capsule to carry US astronauts to be tested in March

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida US SpaceX, Boeing (and NASA) Push Back 1st Test Launches of Private Spaceships
Cary Marshall | 09 February, 2019, 20:58

The agency on Wednesday selected March 2 as the date for the first unmanned test flight, and an undisclosed date in July for when United States spacemen finally get shot back into orbit from American soil. Following the test flights, NASA will review performance data and resolve any necessary issues to certify the systems for operational missions.

NASA's final now contracted Soyuz flight is scheduled for launch in July.

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. In today's announcement, NASA calls them "dress rehearsals" for flights that will have astronauts on board. SpaceX and NASA are now targeting a March 2nd Falcon 9 launch from Kennedy Space Center.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to USA soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit and the space station on systems that meet safety and performance requirements.

For the initial SpaceX test flight, the Dragon will depart five days after docking, plunging back into the atmosphere for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape Canaveral.

More news: US President Donald Trump 'reasonable' on border security talks

The capsule then will be readied for an in-flight abort test in June. The company recently conducted a static fire of the rocket's engines on the launchpad bringing the Falcon 9 one step closer to the Demo-1 launch with Crew Dragon.

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 is March 2", the source said.

NASA's other Commercial Crew partner, Boeing, is also planning a later date for a test flight of its CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsule. That launch will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Space Launch Complex 41.

As with the Crew Dragon test flight, the Starliner will carry out an autonomous rendezvous and docking with the station and depart about a week later. The rocket performed a static fire test on the pad January 24 that the company said was successful. That should clear the way for Boeing to launch a three-person crew - company astronaut Chris Ferguson, a former shuttle commander, and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann - in late August.

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