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NASA announces target date for the first SpaceX Crew Dragon flight – Spaceflight Now

STORY WRITTEN TO CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION Artist's concept SpaceX's Crew Dragon Spacecraft launches on top of a…


Artist’s concept SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spacecraft launches on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: NASA

SpaceX is scheduled for January 7 to launch its first Crew Dragon commercial ferry ship on an opilotated test flight to the International Space Station, NASA announced Wednesday an important milestone in the agency’s effort to end its sole dependence on Russian Soyuz occupying ships for to space astronauts to run.

If the Shakedown flight goes smoothly – and if a NASA security issue is presented on Tuesday, no show stops appear – SpaceX may be ready to launch the first piloted Crew Dragon on top of the Falcon 9 rocket in the June timeframe, wearing the veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the Space Station.

Boeing also builds a commercial spacecraft called the CST-100 Starliner. An opilotated test flight is currently scheduled in March – a certain date has not been announced – followed by a pilot flight to the station in August. Boeing will use United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 Rockets to increase Starliner Spacecraft in orbit.

Both companies are still facing a number of technical barriers, and the dates are preliminary at best.

Boeing has encountered propulsion problems in Starliner’s abortion system and is behind the schedule of key tests while SpaceX faces “serious difficulties” under the NASA Aerospace Advisory Panel, including concerns about high pressure helium tanks used in Falcon 9 boosters and parachute problem with Crew Dragon.

But SpaceX officials say the company is on track for launch in January, and hardware processing, crew training and preparation for soil cultivation continues as planned.

However, NASA bosses are hopeful, or both companies will be certified to launch operational crew rotational flights sometime next year, which ends with the government’s confidence in Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the only available transportation for the United States, Europe, C anadian and Japanese astronauts since the space shuttle has taken place in 2011.

The Opiloted Crew Dragon flight, coming up in January, known as Demo-1 on the SpaceX manifesto, will start from Historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff is expected around 11:57 pm. EST (GMT-5) when earth rotation rotates the pillow in the plane of the station’s orbit.

When released from Falcon 9, spacecraft is expected to perform an autonomous rendezvous with the International Space Station and slide into a dock at the recently modified front port of the laboratory, where shuttles once berthed. After a short stay, the capsule will loosen and return to the ground with a sea splashdown.

Crew Dragon Spacecraft depicted on NASA’s Plum Brook Station test facility. Credit: SpaceX

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that NASA launched a comprehensive review of security cultures on both Boeing and SpaceX. In a statement, NASA said the review is intended to “ensure that companies meet NASA’s workplace safety requirements, including compliance with a drug-free environment.”

“We fully expect our commercial partners to meet all the requirements of the workplace’s security in the implementation of our mission and the services they provide to the US people,” continued the statement. “As always, NASA will make sure they do it.”

The post, which cited sources, reported that the review was partially triggered by the recent performance of SpaceX founder Elon Musk “after he had hit marijuana and sipped whiskey on a podcast streamed on the internet.”

A SpaceX spokesman told CBS News that human space fly “is our company’s main mission” and “nothing more important to SpaceX than this attempt.”

“We take serious responsibility NASA has entrusted with us in order to safely and reliably carry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station, “he said.” Over the years, our engineers have worked side by side with NASA, created a strong partnership and governed the development of Crew Dragon, one of the safest and most advanced human space flight systems ever built. “

He said the company actively promotes workplace safety and managers are convinced that our extensive drug-free workstations occupation and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual terms. “

A Boeing spokesman said for his part that the company’s culture” ensures the integrity, security and quality of our products, our people and their working environment. As NASA’s trusted partner since the beginning of the human space flight, we share the same values ​​and commit ourselves to continuing our confidence, openness and mission success. “

The commercial crew program grew out of a NASA sponsored competition that began in 2011 and ended in September 2014 when the agency announced that Boeing and SpaceX would share 6.8 billion dollars to develop independent space disks, the first new US crew spacecraft since the bus.

SpaceX builds Crew Dragon under a $ 2.6 billion contract. SpaceX also has NASA contracts worth more than $ 2 billion for 20 space station loading visits using opilotated Dragon capsules. A later contract for

Boeing awarded a $ 4.2 billion contract for CST-100 Starliner development. Unlike Crew Dragon, Starliner will use parachutes and airbags for land landings in the Western United States.

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