Thursday, 21 March, 2019

SpaceX set for crew demo launch

ABC News  NASA ABC News NASA
Cary Marshall | 06 March, 2019, 13:49

The mission is a test launch and only has a dummy on board the capsule ahead of a manned flight scheduled for later this year.

While Saturday's SpaceX test mission is a crucial step in the oft-delayed project, there are questions about whether NASA can achieve its 2019 flight goal of manned flight. SpaceX has just tweeted the capsule is metres away from its destination.

After making 18 orbits of Earth since its launch, the Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module forward port via "soft capture" at 5:51 a.m. EST on Sunday, March 3.

It was the first time humans have entered a Crew Dragon while in space and the first time anything has passed through that hatch since the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to the ISS' forward end in 2011.

About five hours after the Crew Dragon docked at the space station, the Expedition 58 crew held a formal welcoming ceremony in which they commended the achievement of NASA's commercial crew program and gave a live video tour of the new addition to their home.

Dragon will remain at the space station until Friday, when it undocks and aims for a splashdown in the Atlantic, a couple hundred miles off the Florida coast.

In this photo provided by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured just beside the International Space Station.

Those handpicked space travelers, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, watched the Crew Dragon launch from Florida, then traveled to Hawthorne to see operations unfold along with the SpaceX team, according to NASA.

More news: Recall of Blood Pressure Medicines Due to Cancer Risk

The dummy pilot is a mannequin nicknamed "Ripley" after Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien films.

SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has made the trip to the ISS a dozen times since 2012, but only to refuel the station.

"The first day of a new era for the next generation of space explorers".

MCCLAIN: On behalf of Ripley, little Earth, myself and our crew, welcome to the Crew Dragon. Now Russian rockets are the only way to get astronauts to the 250-mile-high outpost. Russian Soyuz seats go for up to $82 million apiece.

"We want to maximise our learning so we can get this stuff ready so that when we put crew on, we're ready to go do a real crew mission, and it'll be the right safety for our crews".

Like Ripley, the capsule is rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration and stresses, and to monitor the life-support, propulsion and other critical systems throughout the flight.

NASA says that Boeing's CST-100 Starliner continues to undergo testing in preparation for its Orbital Flight Test, slated for no earlier than April. In the meantime, NASA is paying two companies - SpaceX and Boeing - to build and operate America's next generation of rocket ships.

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