Published: Tue, February 26, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA has approved SpaceX flight vehicle to the ISS

NASA has approved SpaceX flight vehicle to the ISS

"Officials from NASA and USA private aerospace contractor SpaceX, which designed Crew Dragon, announced on Friday that the flight was scheduled for March 2".

"This is an absolutely critical first step that we do as we move towards returning the crewed launch capability back here to the USA", said Gerstenmaier, speaking at a press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida. That's the only way current rockets can rendezvous with an orbital target moving at almost five miles per second. Eastern March 2, in an instantaneous launch window.

Docking and undocking the spacecraft are a critical part of the test. SpaceX has been making supply deliveries for NASA since 2012 on a similar Dragon spacecraft. The first unpiloted test flight of the SpaceX ferry ship is scheduled for takeoff March 2. The agreement with Russian Federation to fly crews on Soyuz will end in 2019.

Prior to the review, NASA had telegraphed that the mission would likely stick to the March 2 date announced in early February.

Crew Dragon, also known as Dragon 2, is a reusable spacecraft designed as a successor to the Dragon space freighter.

The new Falcon 9 Saturday will also attempt a landing.

No one will be aboard the Crew Dragon Demo-1 flight to the ISS, only an instrumented dummy in a white SpaceX spacesuit.

"So now we're going back and we're proving to ourselves that this breaking is so unlikely it's not going to be a concern".

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Russian colleagues ... had some concerns. A redundant system is employed on Japanese and European cargo vessels that dock with the ISS. The Crew Dragon relies instead on redundancy in the primary computer system.

During the same press briefing, William Gerstenmaier, the NASA associate administrator, explained that Russia's concerns were related to the USA agency's lack of a backup computer system to prevent Crew Dragon from colliding with the ISS if the vehicle goes dead. "We think we have sufficient rationale for that".

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, William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations, said during a press conference. Koenigsmann said he didn't know the name of the mannequin. A piloted test flight is scheduled for July, as long as everything goes right.

The Elon-Musk owned SpaceX flight, called Demonstration Mission-1 or DM-1, will be launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

A Falcon 9 rocket will be used to launch Crew Dragon.

Demo-1 will be followed by a crewed test flight carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

If those flights go well, operational US crew rotation flights could begin before the end of the year.

In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were awarded a combined $6.8 billion in contracts from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying crews to the space station.

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