SpaceX set for historic Crew Dragon test flight


Early on Friday, Musk, who is also chief executive officer of electric carmaker Tesla Inc, tweeted a photo of the inside of Crew Dragon capsule with a mannequin nicknamed Ripley strapped inside.

"The Explorers Program seeks innovative ideas for small and cost-constrained missions that can help unravel the mysteries of the universe and explore our place in it", said Paul Hertz, NASA's Director of Astrophysics.

NASA awarded multibillion-dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing back in 2014 to develop commercial space taxis for transporting astronauts to and from the space station, in order to fill the gap left behind by the space shuttle fleet's retirement in 2011.

"There are a lot of things you can prepare for on the ground, and through analysis and tests - and we do all that on the ground - but there's nothing like flying a mission to be able to really check out all the key systems ... to get ready for our next mission", Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA Commercial Crew Program, said last week during a news conference.

The Dragon capsule holding Ripley - which NASA calls an "anthropomorphic test device" - will launch atop SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rocket - the same rocket the company uses to launch supplies to the space station.

The Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) mission will cost $42 million and is planned to launch in August 2022, attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), the United States space agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Crew Dragon also has SuperDraco thrusters, more powerful than the Draco thrusters used on the Dragon.

In 2015, SpaceX conducted its pad abort test seen here.

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Demo-1 will mark a serious step forward for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which involves SpaceX and Boeing working to launch astronauts from USA soil.

I guarantee everything will not work exactly right and that's cool.

NASA doesn't expect this crucial shakedown cruise to go perfectly. "We want to maximize our learning so we can get this stuff ready so when we put crew on ... it'll be the right safety for our crews".

NASA said then the first Crew Dragon test flight would happen in November, with Starliner's maiden voyage happening in late 2018 or early 2019.

This mission is created to test all the systems in advance of crewed missions later this year.

Human spaceflight is basically the core mission of SpaceX. There is nothing more important for us than this endeavour.

SpaceX vice president for build and flight reliability, Hans Koenigsmann, told reporters on Thursday that the company has completed "an incredible amount of testing to make sure that everything is safe and ready to go".

The initial SpaceX mission to the ISS will be crewed by NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, according to the space agency.