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SpaceX 7 months from the first manned test flight



  An artistic depiction of SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship at the final approach to the International Space Station. Credit from image: SpaceX

Rendering of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship by the artist during the final approach to the International Space Station. Credit Card: SpaceX

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida – SpaceX continues to make breathtaking leaps in US ability to launch American-based astronauts. Plans for the completion of the start-day operation are underway and the NewSpace firm is working with NASA to ensure that important launch systems can support the flight.

The Demo 2 Flight is scheduled to fly NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in the spring of 2019 to the International Space Station . As noted on [TheVerge manned test flights for both SpaceX and those of other contractors will be working on NASA's Commercial Crew Program Boeing with its CST-100 Starliner at about the same time.

  Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley stand in front of a model of SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship. Photo Credit: NASA

Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley stand in front of a model of SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship. Photo Credit: NASA

One of the main differences between the two is that SpaceX received $ 2.6 billion, while Boeing received $ 4.2 billion. SpaceX performed a pad-abort test in 2015, while Boeing hopes to reach that milestone this year. Boeing's abortion test was scheduled for this summer but it was delayed due to a leak of highly toxic hydrazine from one of the demolition engines . The leak occurred after the engine shutdown command was issued. Several of the demolition engine valves could not completely close.

Already on July 11, 2018, NASA believed (as noted on Ars Technica ) that Boeing was at the forefront of conducting the first unarmed and manned test flights. Technical and other issues have reached SpaceX Crew Dragon's offer of aviation Titan, with Crew Dragon currently scheduled for April 2019 flight and Starliner for " mid-2019 [19659016]. "The first unmanned test flights are currently targeting November 2018 and" early 2019 "respectively.

Not everything went smoothly with Crew Dragon. The explosion on September 1, 2016, which resulted in the loss of both a Falcon 9 launch vehicle and its $ 184 million Amos 6 satellite, provided NASA officials with serious concerns about SpaceX fueling. Concerns over the timing of the crew and fuel filling procedures are coming from the Falcon 9 Composite Overwrap pressure vessels known as COPVs. It was the COPVs identified as the cause of the Amos-6 accident.

SpaceX plans to refuel its Falcon 9 after the astronauts board Dragon, as did the company's previous unarmed payload flights during the operation. While NASA has provisionally closed this procedure, known as "load and go", it depends on the fact that the Hawthorne, California-based company has successfully completed the space agency certification process to prove that there are potential risks within acceptable limits.

NASA requires SpaceX to conduct five "team loading" procedures to give the agency a better understanding of logistics, as this part of the operation would work during an actual mission.

"To make that decision, our teams have conducted a comprehensive review of SpaceX ground operations, carrier vehicle design, rescue systems, and deployment history," said Kathy Lueders, NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager on behalf of the agency issued release. "The safety of our staff was the driver behind this analysis, and the team's assessment was that this plan carries the least risk."

The series of events designed to ensure that SpaceX missiles and spacecraft are ready to assist manned operations is ongoing. After every milestone that SpaceX completes on its way, NASA will "review, verify and evaluate" the tested systems. The astronauts are expected to attend Crew Dragon two hours before take-off when the launch system is inactive. The ground crews would then leave and the rescue systems of the vehicle would be activated (about 38 minutes before take-off). Shortly thereafter, the refueling of the rocket began.

The Falcon 9 uses RP-1 (a highly refined version of kerosene) along with liquid oxygen as the propellant. This would be loaded about 35 minutes before the start of the flight in the rocket. If something is out of normal, startup operations can be automatically stopped. Should something go wrong, the crew killing launch system could be activated to bring the astronauts to safety.

Tagged: Boeing Commercial Crew Program Crew Dragon Falcon 9 Editorial NASA SpaceX

Jason Rhian

Jason Rhian spent several years interning at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for the following areas: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.


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