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SpaceX shows Crew Dragon on Falcon 9 as the government shutdown loses momentum

Late last week, SpaceX released official photos of Crew Dragon's first launch at Launch Complex 39A (Pad 39A) on its specially certified Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, thus showing what it looked like, a successful integrated one Fit-Check and a successful precursor to the debut launch of the company's first human-rated spacecraft.

Despite the apparent willingness of SpaceX's hardware and facilities for this historic mission, the company was hit with a brick wall that has almost unlimitedly stopped all forward movements to Crew Dragon's first trip to orbit, appeared in the form of Chosen Leaders who were unable to properly finance the bureaucracies that made up the vast majority of the federal government for more than three weeks, including NASA.

NASA has been struggling since At the beginning of 21 December, the company was hit by the closure and has since been operating at just under 5% capacity. The equivalent of throwing a bucket of wrenches into a complex machine. Put simply, the entire agency is more or less at a standstill, apart from the most basic operations and support of spacecraft and facilities that can not be interrupted by the convenience of childish political brink brawl. The damaged parts of the agency included those involved in the late certification work of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and general program support, which was translated directly into an almost indefinite break in the autonomous launch debut of Crew Dragon, known as DM-1 ,

Scientific funding agencies that are open: DOE, DOD and NIH.

The big ones that are affected: NSF, NIST, NOAA, NASA, EPA, USGS, FDA, Smithsonian, USDA @sciencemagazine ] has an overview of the effects of shutting down agencies with a scientific focus https://t.co/uAPz7AWoVT

– Maryam Zaringhalam, PhD (@webmz_) January 5, 2019

Despite the irony The fact that their operations are likely to be viewed as critical and therefore not the brunt With the government closing in, when SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner are demonstrated and declared operational, almost all conceivable programmatic aspects of the commercial crew program are currently falling into a non-critical area as both providers prepare for their first uncovered Demonstration missions into orbit. These autonomous demo missions will be immediately followed by crewed demonstration missions, where real NASA astronauts will fly to the International Space Station before NASA can complete the operating certification of Crew Dragon and Starliner.

At the same time ironic and painfully painful, the initial deployment of crewed crews are explicitly dependent on certification to immediately pursue crewed demonstration launches, which themselves are no less dependent on receiving NASA certifications after each initial unmanned launch of the probe. Any delay that gives the CCPs non-pre-demo launches will likely result in a delay of almost 1: 1 (if not worse) for the operational debut of the two spacecraft, which, thanks to a range, is already dangerously close to the limit of the secured one Access to the ISS operates delays due to technical challenges and the inertia of NASA.

NASA currently relies completely on launch contracts for the Russian Soyuz rocket and the Roscosmos spacecraft to deliver NASA astronauts to the ISS. These contracts are expected to end permanently in November 2019. The end of NASA's Soyuz access could potentially be pushed back to the first quarter of 2020. Ultimately, a single month of delays in this phase of SpaceX Crew Dragon's launch debut preparations could lead to a worsening of delays for crew-manned DM-2 and PCM-1 missions (after the certification mission) and beyond, all strong and are dependent on NASA having done a huge amount of paperwork that would probably endure at this point if 95% of agency employees were unenthusiastic

DM-1 and Falcon 9 were opened their very first trip to Pad 39A greeted by an extraordinary – albeit slightly bittersweet – dawn. (SpaceX)

Fortunately, SpaceX on Pad 39A was still able to perform a dry rollout of Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon, which is likely to serve as an integrated fit test for missile, spacecraft, and fresh upholstery infrastructure, including a brand new crew Access Arm (CAA) was installed at the end of 2018. Although spectacular and apparently successful, it is undeniably difficult to ignore that the closure of the government and inevitable delays will be the result.

SpaceX and its hardware are clearly ready for business – how much longer will we have to wait for US elected officials to show a similar interest in their work?

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