Science

SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1 groundbreaking launch

SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1 groundbreaking launch”

While SpaceX has flown Dragon cargo capsules to the International Space Station, the crew version is longer and heavier and created to hold four astronauts. But there will be a crew member of sorts. The video, which is less than a minute long, shows exactly where astronauts will eventually be sitting as they head into space. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of build and flight reliability, shied away from calling the test device a dummy.

Onboard will be a dummy pilot Ripley named, after the main character of the 1979 movie "Alien", packed with sensors to monitor the flight.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen after being raised into a vertical position on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A February 28, 2019.

The public will be able to tune in starting at 2AM ET on Saturday morning / 11PM PT Friday night for the beginning of the countdown coverage.

The launching is timed to coincide with the moment Earth's rotation carries the pad into the plane of the International Space Station's orbit.

This is the first launch to take place under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, and it'll involve sending the Crew Dragon - unmanned in this mission - to the International Space Station in order to demonstrate its suitability for future manned launches.

After the shuttle program was shuttered in 2011 after a 30-year run, NASA began outsourcing the logistics of its space missions.

"Actually having a reentry, with Ripley in the seat, in the position, is critical", said Kathy Lueders, manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, during a pre-flight media conference.

"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". Its crew demo will take place in mid-2019.

Over the past few weeks, Russian space officials have voiced concerns about whether there was adequate backup computer capacity on the Dragon for the crucial hookup.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. Meanwhile, cameras attached to the station's Canadian-built robotic arm will inspect the exterior.

"I'm very comfortable with where we're headed with this flight". Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the USA has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from Kazakhstan, to get astronauts to the ISS. Since then, NASA has had to purchase pricey seats aboard Russia's Soyuz rocket, which cost $81 million per seat.

Boeing is expected to send its Starliner space capsule on an uncrewed flight to the space station for the first time sometime this spring.

The crews for those missions have already been chosen.

However, there's a good chance that the stated flight schedule will slip.

In addition to NASA's broadcast, SpaceX will provide its own launch broadcast via its website here. There may also need to be some design tweaks made in the Dragon's thruster system. "This one will be a big step!" retired astronaut Scott Kelly, NASA's former one-year space station resident, tweeted Thursday.



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