Monday , January 25 2021

NASA Announces First Destination Flight SpaceX Crew Dragon – Spaceflight Now


The concept of the spacecraft artist SpaceX & # 39; s Crew Dragon, launched on a Falcon rocket 9. Credit: NASA

SpaceX set its sights on January 7 to launch its first commercial ferry ship Crew Dragon on an unlicensed test flight to the International Space Station, NASA said on Wednesday that it was an important milestone in the agency’s desire to put an end to the only dependence of cosmonauts on board the Russian spacecraft Soyuz .

If the landing flight goes smoothly – and if there are no traffic jams on NASA's probe on Tuesday, SpaceX may be ready to launch the first manned dragon crew on the Falcon 9 rocket in June terms, leading NASA astronauts veterans Robert Becken and Douglas Hurley to the space station.

Boeing is also building a commercial spacecraft crew called the CST-100 Starliner. In March, a non-insulated test flight is scheduled – a specific date was not announced, after which a pilot flight to the station in August. Boeing will use United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets to launch a Starliner spacecraft into orbit.

Both companies still face various technical obstacles, and the dates are tentative at best.

Boeing faced engine problems in the Starliner interrupt system and lagged behind key tests, while SpaceX faced “serious difficulties,” according to the NASA Aerospace Research Advisory Group, including concerns about high-pressure helium tanks used in Falcon 9 bunker and parachute problems with the Dragon Crew.

But SpaceX officials say the company is on track to launch in January, and that equipment processing, crew training and ground support training are proceeding as planned.

However, as is known, NASA executives hope that one or both companies will be certified to launch operational flights on helicopters next year, which will lead to the agency relying on the Russian spacecraft Soyuz, the only available transport for American, European , Canadian and Japanese astronauts since the resignation of the space shuttle in 2011.

The non-polar flight of the Dragon Crew, which will appear in January, known as Demon-1 on the SpaceX manifesto, will start from the historic site 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The rise is expected around 11:57 pm. EST (GMT-5), when the rotation of the Earth takes a pillow to the station orbit plane.

As soon as he leaves Falcon 9, the spacecraft is expected to perform an autonomous rendezvous with the International Space Station, sliding to docking at the recently changed direct laboratory port where the shuttles once moored. After a short stay, the capsule will undock and return to Earth with the blow of the ocean.

The spacecraft "Dragon Crew" is depicted at the test site of NASA "Plum Brook." Credit: SpaceX

On Tuesday, The Washington Post announced that NASA is launching a major safety review of the “cultures” on both Boeing and SpaceX. A NASA statement said the review was designed to “ensure that companies comply with NASA requirements for workplace safety, including compliance with drug-free conditions.”

“We fully expect our business partners to meet all safety requirements in the workplace while carrying out our missions and the services they provide to the American people,” the statement said. "As always, NASA guarantees that they will do it."

The Post, citing sources, reported that the review was caused, in part, by the recent behavior of SpaceX founder Elon Musk "after he took a blow from marijuana and sipped his temples in a podcast broadcast on the Internet."

SpaceX spokesperson told CBS News that human spaceflight "is our company's main mission" and "there is nothing more important for SpaceX than this aspiration."

“We take seriously the responsibility that NASA entrusted us to safely and reliably carry American astronauts to the International Space Station and back,” he said. “For many years, our engineers worked side by side with NASA, creating a strong partnership and guiding the development of Crew Dragon, one of the safest and most advanced space flight systems of mankind ever created.”

He said that the company is actively promoting workplace safety, and managers are confident that "our comprehensive employment and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual requirements."

For his part, a Boeing spokesman said that the company's culture “guarantees the integrity, safety and quality of our products, our people and their working environment. As a reliable partner of NASA from the very beginning of the human spaceflight, we share the same values ​​and are committed to continuing our legacy of trust, openness and mission success. ”

The commercial crew program grew out of a competition sponsored by NASA, which began in 2011 and ended in September 2014, when the agency announced that Boeing and SpaceX would be sharing $ 6.8 billion. The United States to develop independent space taxis, the first new US spacecraft since the time of transmission.

SpaceX is building the Dragon crew under a $ 2.6 billion contract. SpaceX also has NASA contracts worth over $ 2 billion to 20 space station cargo missions using Dragon's un-polished capsules. The subsequent contract for an unspecified amount covers another six cargo flights.

Boeing was awarded a $ 4.2 billion CST-100 Starliner development contract. Unlike Crew Dragon, Starliner will use parachutes and airbags for ground landings in the western United States.

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