Space missions are very important, which is why they take a lot of time to prepare. NASA’s Crew program chose two commercial companies – SpaceX and Boeing to create capsules that will send astronauts to the International Space Station. That was back in 2016 when the companies achieved essential milestones in their projects and continued adding more successful and also some failed tests to their portfolio. All problems were solved, and SpaceX is ready to finally launch the Crew Dragon for the first test flight.
Although it was supposed to initially take place on 7 January, and then delayed to February, SpaceX and NASA have decided to push the date to 2nd March. The test will have the capsule fly uncrewed to the ISS on top a Falcon 9 rocket. Neither NASA nor SpaceX explained why they are delaying the test, but we can only assume that the 35-day shutdown of the government messed with their schedule, considering many NASA employees were not on site during the shutdown.
‘Critical Steps to Complete Before Launch’
The first test must prove to NASA that Crew Dragon can safely travel to the ISS and that the hardware aboard is working good. Meanwhile, this test will also get to train both ground controllers and mission managers. Kathy Lueders, the Commercial Crew Program manager stated in the NASA press release on the agency’s blog that preparing for the launches is essential:
There still are many critical steps to complete before launch and while we eagerly are anticipating these launches, we will step through our test flight preparations and readiness reviews.
We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight.
If the test is successful, SpaceX will carry on with the second one which got delayed to July 2019. NASA hopes to have both SpaceX and Boeing certified so that they can carry astronauts to the ISS by the end of this year. This way, the agency will no longer need to rely on the Russian Soyuz capsule.
Here is the full flight schedule from the agency’s blog:
SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): March 2, 2019
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): NET April 2019
Boeing Pad Abort Test: NET May 2019
SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: June 2019
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): July 2019
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): NET August 2019
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere