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NASA Clears SpaceX Crew Dragon March 2 Test Flight to Space Station

NASA Clears SpaceX Crew Dragon March 2 Test Flight to Space Station

NASA and SpaceX officials completed the flight readiness review ahead of the planned launch of an unmanned SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station. We're going to continue to work with them on those concerns. The impact of seeing the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon drove home how close SpaceX is from sending astronauts to the space station.

The Elon-Musk owned SpaceX flight, called Demonstration Mission-1 or DM-1, will be launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

"The flight test will provide valuable data NASA will review as part of the process to certify SpaceX's crew transportation system is as safe as possible for carrying astronauts to and from the space station", according to NASA.gov.

William Gerstenmaier, Nasa's associate administrator for human exploration, said agency officials will follow up with their Russian counterparts about the safeguards that are in place in case of a failure.

Both companies plan significant safety exercises this summer before they can fly with crews. Anticipating potential weather or technical issues, SpaceX should have three opportunities to launch between March 2 and March 9, but if it misses this window it's not clear when the company would have another attempt.

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SpaceX Build and Flight Reliability Vice President Hans Koenigsmann said the Crew Dragon Demo-1 spacecraft will carry one passenger inside the cabin: a flight-suit wearing mannequin. Two NASA astronauts will be in the spacecraft then, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. SpaceX recovery crews stationed nearby will pull the capsule onto a ship and haul it back to Port Canaveral for detailed post-flight inspections.

NASA has waited a long time for this moment, since July, 2011, when the space shuttle made its final flight and the agency retired the venerable vehicles.

NASA also is funding development of a Boeing capsule known as the CST-100 Starliner that is scheduled for an unpiloted launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket later this spring.

In August 2018, NASA also revealed the names of nine U.S. astronauts who will fly on the first certification flights for Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon.

NASA has allocated SpaceX $2.6 billion, and rival Boeing about $4 billion for the establishment of a separate system of rockets and capsules for the delivery of American astronauts to the ISS.

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