Critical flight test of the SpaceX Crew capsule scheduled for Saturday


The SpaceX Crew Dragon's artistic design and the Falcon 9 rocket are lifted.
Illustration: SpaceX

SpaceX is about to send an unprepared Dragon capsule to the International Space Station this weekend, with one of the most anticipated launches of 2019. A successful test would pave the way for a crewed mission later in the year – and the subsequent return of the launch of astronauts in space on its own terms.

As difficult and frustrating as it may seem, the United States has not been able to deliver astronauts into space without the help of foreign partners since the withdrawal of the space shuttle program in 2011. is the status of the pioneering space agency It landed on the moon in 1969, operates many probes on Mars and has three spacecraft currently heading to or through interstellar space (Travelers 1 and 2 and New Horizons, in case you're wondering).

Fortunately, this deficiency may soon be over. Early Saturday morning, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft not yet launched will take off at the top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If the test succeeds, it will be "the first time that a US designed and operated rocket and spacecraft will be designed for humans and intended for the space station," NASA said in a statement. Press release.

Ready to go: the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon are ready for the scheduled launch on Saturday.
Image: SpaceX

The SpaceX Demo-1 flight test to the ISS is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd. NASA's test flight coverage will start at 14:00 and takeoff time is 14:48 (local time). This is not the best timing for many viewers, but the launch will take place at about the time when the Earth's rotation will carry the rocket into the plane of the space station's orbit, which will it turns out to be the only way for current rockets to meet an orbital target. moving at nearly five miles per second, "according to SpaceFlightNow.If you're awake at that time, you'll watch the live launch on NASA TV.

If SpaceX and NASA are forced to cancel Saturday's launch, the next windows of opportunity will be on March 5 and 9, by SpaceFlight Now.

The crew is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Sunday, March 3 at 5:44 am, with the hatch opening scheduled for 8:45 am On Friday, March 8 at 2:00 am, the hatch will be closed. 7:30 am: The crew dragon will desorb and return to the atmosphere of the Earth. The spacecraft is expected to land in the Atlantic Ocean about 230 km east of the launch site, reports SpaceFlight Now. Again, you can watch these events unfold live on NASA TV.

Demo-1 will be an important test for NASA's $ 6.8 billion commercial team program and for SpaceX's Falcon 9 and its experimental crew capsule. The Falcon 9 has already proven itself as a reliable launcher, having participated in 21 missions in 2018 alone, but the rocket is equipped with an updated and improved Merlin 1D engine.

During testing, NASA and SpaceX will carefully monitor ground systems, in – orbit operations, docking and landing procedures, as well as many other elements.

Everything must conform to the specifications if the vehicle must be certified as fit for human occupation. Assuming the test runs well and the Crew Dragon is certified, a subsequent test called Demo-2 will be held in July, with NASA astronauts Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken boarding the ship. the capsule aboard the ISS. Prior to Demonstration 2, however, NASA and SpaceX will perform a major drop-out test in June.

As part of its commercial crew program, NASA is also working with Boeing, which is developing its own crew capsule called CST-100 Starliner. An unassembled test of the Boeing Space Shuttle is scheduled for April 2019, while a crewed flight test is scheduled for August 2019, according to NASA.

[NASA, SpaceFlight Now]
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