The very first human test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule was launched in May
- SpaceX will perform a test of Crew Dragon’s abort system during the flight this weekend
- The test is the last before the capsule is released for human launch
- Last year, Crew Dragon exploded during a test and seriously damaged the capsule
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon first human launch for passengers may come faster than expected.
According to an chatter from Eric Berger from Ars Technica, Crew Dragon can now bring its first astronauts into space on 7 May if everything goes according to plan. Variables could push the launch to Mary or April, Berger added.
“Working date for the launch of SpaceX on Demo-2 is 7 May,” tweeted Berger.
“Dragon is in good condition. Launch date is smooth and the mission can be moved at the end of April, or pushed later in May, depending on a number of non-hardware-related variables. No final decision on the duration yet. ”
The news about the expected launch date follows successes on an important test of the vessel’s launch interruption system last month in which SpaceX Crew Dragon had the ultimate test undergo.
During the test, the vessel launched at high altitudes and the boosters exploded while the capsule was broken down at high speed – the most stressful point of the launch.
NASA’s commercial crew program manager said at the time that the launch cancellation test was “our last open milestone” before sending astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the international space station.
The capsule has gone through ups and downs in recent years. Last April an empty capsule engulfed the empty capsule in fire and smoke.
The incident was caused by a leaky part and completely destroyed the capsule – a glitch that contributed to SpaceX’s delayed timeline for Crew Dragon, which it is developing for NASA
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, pictured with an illustration of the Crew Dragon capsule, has long sought to bring Crew Dragon back after an explosion that derailed in April last year
While SpaceX makes its Crew Dragon operational, the company is working on a similar milestone in a test of its other vessel, Starship.
The company hopes to fly its Starship rocket 12 miles into the air and then land it upright on the ground.
The test, for which the company has submitted a permit to the FCC, could already take place mid-March.
Once the capsule is released for launching astronauts, but eventually the road is cleared for civil space tourism.
WHAT IS SPACEX ‘CREW DRAGON CAPSULE?
The test of 2 March, the first launch of American astronauts on American soil in eight years, will inform the system design and operations (artist’s impression)
The capsule measures approximately 20 feet long by 12 feet in diameter, and can carry up to 7 astronauts at a time.
The Crew Dragon has an advanced emergency flight system (which was tested earlier this year) to bring astronauts to safety quickly if something should go wrong, with roughly the same G-forces as a ride in Disneyland.
It also has an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) that provides a comfortable and safe environment for crew members.
The Crew Dragon screens provide real-time information about the status of the spacecraft’s capabilities, everything from Dragon’s position in space, to possible destinations, to the environment on board.
Those CRS-2 Dragon missions will use “propulsive” landings, with the capsule landing on a runway using its SuperDraco bow thrusters instead of splashing into the ocean.
That gives NASA faster access to the cargo returned by that spacecraft, and also builds up experience for propulsive landings of Dragon spacecraft with crew.