SpaceX is preparing for a major spaceflight milestone.
Elon Musk's company intends to fly the first demonstration mission of its Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on March 2nd.
This known as Demo-1 flight is not screwed. If all goes well, Crew Dragon will probably bring astronauts to the orbita lab for the first time this summer. [Take a Walk Through SpaceX’s Crew Dragon]
Here's what you should know about Crew Dragon, Demo-1, and the short-term future of space travel.
What is Crew Dragon?
SpaceX created Crew Dragon on NASA's contract with a $ billion commercial crew. The agency signed a similar deal with Boeing, who works on a capsule called the CST-100 Starliner.
The goal is to bring orbital spaceflight back to the US soil. American astronauts have been dependent on Russian Soyuz rockets and satellites since July 2011, when NASA withdrew their space shuttle fleet, to travel to the ISS.
From NASA, a lot of money flowed to their Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, as a result; Seats aboard the three-passenger spacecraft Soyuz are currently being sold for around $ 80 million.
Crew Dragon launches Falcon 9 spacecraft, a two-stage vehicle with a reusable first stage. Starliner, scheduled to make his unmanned maiden flight to the ISS in April, will be lofted by United Launch Alliance Atlas V missiles, which are not reusable.
How is it different from Cargo Dragon
? The modified, updated version of the SpaceX robot dragon cargo capsule, which has been flying unbroken supply missions to the ISS since 2012 under another NASA contract.
Crew Dragon has many astronaut related features missing from the robot cousin. seven of them), windows, fancy touch screen displays, a life support system and an escape system. The escape system, which was designed to evict Crew Dragon in the event of a launch emergency, consists of eight SpaceX SuperDraco engines built into the capsule body.
There are other important differences between the two vehicles. For example, Dragon has conventional retractable solar arrays, but Crew Dragon's solar panels cover the fuselage of the spacecraft and do not need to be activated for activation.
Both Dragon variants are reusable and SpaceX has already re-flown several of the freight vehicles on the ISS missions. But not every single Crew Dragon will fly multiple ISS missions to NASA, at least not initially, said SpaceX officials
. What will demo-1 do?
((VideoProviderTag | jwplaDemo-1 launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida: SpaceX targets the launch of March 2, though this date is far from being set in stone.  The mission is designed to test nearly all of Crew Dragon's critical equipment by means of their automatic approach and docking. SpaceX personnel will carefully monitor the performance of these systems during the approximately two-week mission, which ends with a parachute-based launch in the Pacific  However, a successful return to Earth does not disclose Crew Dragon's willingness to lead the crew, and SpaceX will also conduct an unrestrained "capsule takeoff" test in June to ensure that the escape system is operating properly.  If e On both flights everything goes well, demo-2 will be released for takeoff This Missio n, which could start in July, will bring NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the ISS for a one-week stay.
NASA Missions in the Orbita Laboratory Follow Successful Completion of Demo-2
Kick-off for the spaceship?
If SpaceX's vision is true, Crew Dragon will not fly for too long – and Cargo Dragon or the missiles Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX is building a new all-space spacecraft, consisting of a 100-passenger spaceship called Starship and a giant rocket called Super Heavy. The reusable duo will carry people to and from Mars, the Moon, and other distant targets, Musk said, doing whatever SpaceX needs, from launching the satellites to eliminating space debris.
Starship and Super Heavy will also do some work closer to the Earth's surface, bringing people to super-fast point-to-point travel around the globe.
The book by Mike Wall about the search for extraterrestrial life "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us @SpaceTotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.