Friday, 19 April, 2019

NASA and SpaceX reset Crew Dragon test flight for March 2

Test Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket View Slideshow Test Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket NASA
Sandy Nunez | 09 February, 2019, 20:56

NASA officials said Wednesday the uncrewed test flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon originally on track for January will now happen March 2.

The Falcon 9 booster will blast off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, which has a new crew access arm installed on the launch tower for eventual manned missions.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX's planned test flight of a capsule created to carry astronauts to the International Space Station was pushed back Wednesday by a week, with NASA officials saying liftoff is now set for March 2.

Boeing's first uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner vehicle, previously scheduled for March, is now expected no earlier than April. There are two crewed flights planned for each, one for testing purposes and the other an actual mission.

In an updated schedule released Wednesday, NASA said it is now looking at March 2 for the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon test flight. The capsule, which was supposed to go to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 7, has been delayed twice already since then, Engadget reported.

Astronauts haven't been launched from the U.S. since the shuttering of NASA's longstanding shuttle program in 2011.

In a statement posted on the agency's website, NASA said the revised schedule will allow time for "completion of necessary hardware testing, data verification, remaining NASA and provider reviews, as well as training of flight controllers and mission managers".

Boeing Starliner Capsule
View Slideshow Boeing Starliner Capsule NASA

The first two SpaceX flights will ultimately be "dress rehearsals" for future missions that feature astronauts aboard, according to officials. This one, also without crew, will take place in April at the earliest. President Trump made a passing reference to commercial crew missions in his State of the Union address February 5.

"The uncrewed test flights will be the first time commercially-built and operated American spacecraft designed for humans will dock the space station".

"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.

SpaceX also completed a pad abort test in 2015.

Boeing, SpaceX and the Commercial Crew Program are actively working to be ready for the operational missions.

Then will come huge milestones - crewed test flights to the ISS.

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