Science

NASA clears SpaceX test flight to space station

NASA clears SpaceX test flight to space station”

NASA and SpaceX officials completed the flight readiness review ahead of the planned launch of an unmanned SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station.

The flight plan calls for the Demo 1 Crew Dragon to undock on March 8 and return to an Atlantic Ocean splashdown about 230 miles east of Cape Canaveral.

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.

Officials gave the green light Friday after conducting a safety review.

A phenomenal amount of work has gone into ensuring the capsule does not endanger the space station and its three occupants as it pulls up and docks, Gerstenmaier said.

Human spaceflight is the company's core mission, said Hans Koenigsmann, a SpaceX vice president, and for now, there's nothing more important than this endeavor. "It was a really big deal for SpaceX, and me personally", he said.

This decision removed a key obstacle for SpaceX in its efforts to help NASA to revive the American program of manned flight into space, stalled after the Shuttle mission ended in 2011.

"The uncrewed flight tests are a great dry run for not only our hardware, but for our team to get ready for our crewed flight tests", said Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Programme Manager at NASA.

When Boeing or SpaceX launch NASA astronauts it will mark the first time an American has launched to low Earth orbit from USA soil since 2011. That arrangement was costing NASA tens of millions of dollars per seat, according to the Associated Press.

Its launch atop the Falcon 9 rocket for the unmanned test mission is scheduled for 2:48 am EST (07:48 GMT) on March 2.

Ovchinin and Hague suffered a dramatic Soyuz booster malfunction during their initial climb to space last October, but the capsule and crew landed safety about 250 miles from the launch site in Kazakhstan.

SpaceX also holds a $2.6 billion NASA contract to build and launch a piloted version of its Dragon cargo capsule.

This will be the first time the U.S. space agency lets a private-sector company transport their astronauts. Its first Starliner demo is targeted for April, and the second, with astronauts, no earlier than August.



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