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.
While NASA and Boeing engineers investigate the cause of a software error that cut short the first orbital test flight of the Starliner crew capsule last month, ground teams have returned the spaceship from its landing site in New Mexico back to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Preliminary inspections indicate the reusable spacecraft weathered its first trip into orbit better than expected, and Boeing teams are confident the ship will need only “minimal refurbishment” before its next launch with astronauts.
SpaceX’s final planned Crew Dragon test flight before astronauts ride the commercial spaceship into orbit is scheduled for Saturday, when an unpiloted crew capsule will fire off the top of a Falcon 9 rocket shortly after launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to test the craft’s in-flight emergency escape capability.
SpaceX fired up nine Merlin main engines at the bottom of a previously-flown Falcon 9 booster Saturday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, running the rocket through a practice countdown before a scheduled liftoff Jan. 18 with a Crew Dragon capsule to test the human-rated ship’s high-altitude abort capability.
SpaceX is gearing up for launch of an unpiloted Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center for a crucial test of the crew capsule’s launch abort system. A modified Falcon 9 rocket performed a test-firing at launch pad 39A Saturday before carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft into the upper atmosphere for an in-flight abort test scheduled for Jan. 18.
A hefty communications satellite built by Boeing and launched by SpaceX Monday night from Cape Canaveral is on the way to a lofty perch more than 22,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean, where a startup named Kacific will use it to link remote populations seeking connectivity for health clinics, schools and other basic services.