A NASA official said Friday that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft could be ready to ferry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station as soon as early March, pending the results from a major demonstration of the ship’s launch abort system Saturday, a pair of parachute drop tests, and space station crew schedules.
SpaceX is scheduled to perform a high-altitude test of the launch escape system on the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft between 8 a.m. EST and 12 p.m. EST (1300-1700 GMT) Saturday over the Atlantic Ocean around a minute-and-a-half after liftoff on a modified Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test flight will verify the Crew Dragon’s launch abort engines can safely carry the capsule — and astronauts on future missions — away from a failing rocket.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule were raised vertical at launch pad 39A in Florida late Thursday, setting the stage for a launch day dress rehearsal Friday with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — the veteran space fliers assigned to the Crew Dragon’s first piloted mission later this year — before a critical in-flight test of the ship’s emergency escape system Saturday.
Scientists crunching data from NASA’s orbiting TESS planet-hunting observatory have discovered a potentially habitable Earth-sized world circling a star a bit more than 100 light-years from the sun, the first such detection by the TESS mission since its launch in 2018, astronomers announced this week.