An important safety test of SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut taxi could be held as early as next month, Elon Musk said.
The test is an in-flight crash (IFA) that will demonstrate the crew The Dragon's ability to stay out of the way in the event of a firing emergency. During the IFA, a crew dragon launches on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Shortly after taking off, the capsule fires its SuperDraco escape engines, which fire the crew Dragon at a considerable distance from the rocket.
Both the spacecraft and the booster needed for the test are already in SpaceX's facilities in Cape Canaveral. We should not have to wait much longer for the IFA, Musk said.
In Photos: Take a Tour of the SpaceX Crew Kite Spaceship
"All hardware is at the Cape. Must make static fire and for the flight Start probably late November / early December, "he tweeted on Tuesday (October 8).
All hardware is at the cape. You need to do static fire and reconfigure for the flight. Start expected in late November / early December October 8, 2019
The IFA marks an important milestone on the crew's journey to manned flight, which SpaceX and NASA are soon embarking on. SpaceX has signed a $ 2.6 billion NASA contract to bring US astronauts with the capsule and Falcon 9 to and from the International Space Station.
This contract was announced in September 2014 Development of a capsule named CST-100 Starliner . At the time, NASA officials said they wanted at least one of these private vehicles to be operational by the end of 2017.
(Photo credit: NASA)
NASA strives to halt the purchase of seats aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which to date have been the only ones to orbit astronauts of any nationality since the Space Shuttle fleet ground in July 2011. Seats aboard the three-headed Soyuz are currently being sold for around $ 85 million apiece, the NASA administrator recently told Jim Bridenstine .
A crewed dragon visited the ISS once last March on a historic mission without crew, known as Demo-1 . The same capsule should also perform the IFA test, but the vehicle was destroyed in April during a ground test of the SuperDraco Demolition System which pushed SpaceX's timelines back.
The next big milestone after the IFA is Demo-2, a test flight that takes NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the orbital lab and back. Operational, contracted missions will begin sometime thereafter.
It is unclear when Demo-2 will fly; NASA has suspended the release of target dates for large SpaceX and Boeing commercial team milestones in July, shortly after Bill Gerstenmaier, the longtime head of the Agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, was reassigned ].
But demo -2s launch may not be too far off at this point, Musk suggested in another Tuesday tweet.
"The SpaceX schedule that I've just reviewed in detail shows Falcon & Dragon at the Cape and All tests were done in ~ 10 weeks," he said via Twitter . Musk responded to a tweet by Eric Berger of Ars Technica who reported that one source described the "complete panic" that emerged from the altercation with NASA with the prospect of Crew Dragon and Starliner in the first half of next year may not be operational year.
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