America's return to manned space flights was delayed again when NASA rolled back the crucial SpaceX test flight
- The unmanned test of SpaceX Crew Dragon was scheduled for the launch on 7 January
- Will start on top of Falcon 9 rocket for a crucial first flight test prior to the crew mission
- The test provides data on ground systems, on-orbit, docking, landing operations
Mark Prigg for Dailymail.com
The first flight of a SpaceX rocket specially designed to fly astronauts to the international space station has been delayed by NASA.
The Demo-1 flight test is a crucial milestone in the space agency's Commercial Crew Program, which for the first time in almost a decade wants to bring people from the bottom of the US to space.
The first, unscrewed test of the spacecraft was on 7 January the launch of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA – but this has now been reduced to 17 January to allow the return of the Dragon spacecraft from the company's 16th commercial supply. make service mission.
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The first flight of a SpaceX rocket specifically designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station is scheduled for launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 7, NASA said Wednesday.
WHAT FOLLOWS FOR THE CAPSULES?
After the non-screwed test flights, both companies will break off spacecraft to demonstrate their escape capability of the crew during a real emergency on flight or takeoff.
The latest test flights for each company are crew flights to the space station before they are certified by NASA for turnout missions.
NASA and SpaceX agreed to move the launch date of the target from the unscrewed to the International Space Station. SpaceX coordinated with the Eastern Range for a launch on Thursday, January 17th.
With this modification, the Dragon spacecraft can be returned from the company's 16th commercial supply services mission.
The SpaceX Demo-1 will contain important data on the ground, integrated rocket and spacecraft and autonomous docking systems, and the landing profile prior to the aircraft flight test with astronauts, known as Demo-2.
We have more work to do now that the certification process, hardware development and readiness reviews are ongoing & # 39 ;, says Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
"The key-readiness tests along with NASA's ongoing analysis of hardware and software test and certification data must be completed before launch.
The upcoming steps for the test missions are crucial and their importance can not be underestimated.
& # 39; We are not driven by dates, but by data. Eventually we fly SpaceX Demo-1 at the right time, so we get the correct data back to support the test during the flight and the next test flight when our astronauts are on board.
NASA said SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft – which will send three astronauts to space from the same launch platform that sent Apollo 11's 3-man team to the moon in 1969 – will make its debut flight on top of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on 7 January.
"However, the fact that we coordinate target dates with the Eastern Range is a good example of the real progress we are making with commercial crews and how close we are to flying American spacecraft and missiles from US soil." ;
While NASA did not detail the escape route, it said the test would provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9, Crew Dragon capsule and ground systems, as well as on-orbit, docking and landing operations.
SpaceX and Boeing Co are the two main contractors selected under NASA's Commercial Crew Program to send astronauts into space as soon as they are in 2019, with their Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner spacecraft respectively.
Since the US space shuttle program was closed in 2011, NASA had to rely on Russia to fly astronauts to the space station, a $ 100 billion orbital research laboratory flying about 250 miles (402 km) above the earth.
The demo-1 launch is the latest test in a strict certification period that was imposed by NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
While SpaceX targets early January, NASA spokeswoman Marie Lewis said the demom mission could be reduced because safe flying always takes precedence over schedule. & # 39;
WHAT IS SPACEX & # 39; CREW DRAGON?
The capsule measures approximately 20 feet long by 12 feet in diameter, and will carry up to 7 astronauts at a time.
The Crew Dragon is equipped with an advanced emergency system (which was tested earlier this year) to quickly bring astronauts to safety if something went wrong, where they experienced the same G-forces as a ride in Disneyland.
SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule measures 20 feet long by 12 feet in diameter and can carry up to 7 astronauts at the same time. However, the manned flight has four astronauts on board
It also has an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) that provides a comfortable and safe environment for crew members.
Crew Dragon displays provide real-time information about the state of spacecraft capabilities and show everything from Dragon's position in space, to possible destinations, and the environment onboard.
Those CRS-2 Dragon missions will be & # 39; propelling & # 39; using landings where the capsule lands on a landing site using its SuperDraco bow thrusters instead of splashing into the ocean.
This allows NASA to gain faster access to the cargo brought back by that spacecraft, and also build experience for propelling landings of manned Dragon spacecraft.
Pictured is the Crew Dragon space flight simulator. The Crew Dragon has an advanced flight system for quickly bringing astronauts to safety if something goes wrong
Founded by Tesla Inc, Chief Executive Elon Musk, SpaceX said that if the 7 January test is successful, it plans to launch its first manned mission in June 2019, but the timeline may shift.
Boeing is planning a similar test launch of the Starliner spacecraft on its Atlas 5 rocket in March, with a manned mission following in August.
The launch launch on January 7 comes a day after NASA said it is a cultural assessment study & # 39; of the companies, "including compliance with a drug-free environment," prior to the test flights.