NASA and SpaceX Postpone First Crew Dragon Test Flight
NASA and SpaceX Postpone First Crew Dragon Test Flight
09 February, 2019, 20:57
NASA has once again pushed back the first test flights for its Commercial Crew program. This is the third month in a row that NASA has announced a further delay for the first major test flight of Crew Dragon. Though they're essentially practice runs, they're still big launches, as the Commercial Crew Program will eventually be used to take astronauts from the U.S. to the International Space Station. That's a slip of one month from the previous schedule.
The Crew Dragon, which is created to take astronauts to the ISS, will need to undergo its first uncrewed test flight before next steps.
The uncrewed test flights will be the first time commercially-built and operated American spacecraft designed for humans will dock to the space station.
The next big box to check after these demonstration flights will be tests of the private vehicles' emergency escape systems, which would get the capsules away from danger if a problem arose during launch.
"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", explained CCP manager Kathy Lueders.
The first two SpaceX flights will ultimately be "dress rehearsals" for future missions that feature astronauts aboard, according to officials.
SpaceX and Boeing each have contracts with NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.
"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".
Specifically, this includes tasks like additional hardware testing, more reviews from NASA, and training flight controllers and mission managers.
If schedules hold, the crewed launches this summer will be the first to take off from US soil carrying humans to low-Earth orbit since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station.
Aeroplane manufacturer Boeing will conduct a similar test run of its own spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner, on an unspecified date in April.
Boeing's crewed launch is scheduled for August.
NASA's commercial crew program has been delayed repeatedly over the years, forcing a lengthy, expensive reliance on Russian rockets.
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