Thursday, 21 March, 2019

SpaceX debuts new crew capsule in crucial test flight

Nasa plans to put two astronauts on board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule by year end Nasa plans to put two astronauts on board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule by year end
Cary Marshall | 02 March, 2019, 05:22

Planned to launch in August 2022 to the International Space Station, the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) will "focus on colorful bands of light in Earth's atmosphere, called airglow, to determine what combination of forces drive space weather in the upper atmosphere". NASA is providing $8 billion for SpaceX and Boeing to build and operate these new systems.

When SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule lifts off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, there won't be any humans aboard.

SpaceX to launch test flight for NASA Why is the SpaceX Crew Dragon launching at 2:49 a.m. EST?

Human spaceflight is basically the core mission of SpaceX. "And I'm pretty sure it's not just me, I think everybody within SpaceX feels this and wants to get this right".

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first privately developed spacecraft created to ferry USA astronauts to orbit since NASA's shuttle was retired eight years ago is on track for blastoff on an unpiloted test flight early Saturday. The Hawthorne, California-based company evolved that Dragon cargo ship into a 21st-century space capsule equipped with a life-support system, emergency escape rockets and sleek touchscreen controls.

The new capsule will blast off on board a rocket built by SpaceX - the space company of billionaire Elon Musk - at 0249 (0749 GMT) on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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The life-size test dummy Ripley-wearing SpaceX's slick new spacesuit-is strapped into one of the capsule's seats. The Roadster launched on top of the first successfully launched Falcon Heavy rocket last February.

In addition to Ripley, the craft will be carrying 400 pounds of supplies and equipment for the station. The preparations running up to launch day have gone smoothly for SpaceX.

This mission is a night owl's dream, with most of the big events happening in the wee hours.

Space fans in the United States will need to stay up late to watch the historic, uncrewed Demonstration 1 (Demo-1) mission take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) mission will cost $42 million and is planned to launch in August 2022, attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), the USA space agency said in a statement on Tuesday. It will then dock where the current astronauts on the station - including Canadian David Saint-Jacques - will unload the cargo. NASA announced the upcoming launch earlier this week, and now it is back with a full launch schedule.

But a lot more is resting on this launch. Several items-parachutes and thrusters, among others-still need work and possibly redesign before certified for human use. NASA's Doug Hurley and Boeing's Christopher Ferguson-who both flew that final shuttle mission-will test drive the new commercial capsules. It will not be tested until April, in a mission similar to SpaceX's. The first uncrewed flight is an important step in returning human launches on American rockets and spacecraft to the space station from US soil since 2011.

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