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NASA, SpaceX Clear Crew Dragon for critical March 2 test flight

NASA executives held a proficiency review on Friday and cleared SpaceX to continue the work of completing a Falcon 9 rocket and the commercial ferry vessel Crew Dragon for launch on March 2 on an unilateral trial flight to international space Station. The long-awaited mission is a critical milestone in NASA's $ 6.8 billion commercial crew program, aimed at ending the government's only dependency on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry the US and partner astronauts to and from the station in the wake of space shuttle retirement eight years ago. If all goes well, two NASA astronauts are hoping on board a Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first tested flight in July. "It's more than a test flight, it's really a mission to the International Space Station, it's part of the commercial crew program that really gets us ready for … crew flying coming later," said Bill Gerstenmaier, head of space flight at NASA's headquarters, about the unilateral test flight. "This is an absolutely critical first step as we move to eventually recurring crew resolution capabilities back here to the United States" Lifting from Historical Pillow 39A is aimed at 2:49:03 ET ET a from Saturday, at about the moment the Earth's rotation carries the rocket in the space station's plane. That's the only way that current rockets can rendezvous with an orbital target moving at nearly five miles per second. Backup launch opportunities are available March 5 and March 9, but after that NASA would have to descend until…

NASA executives held a proficiency review on Friday and cleared SpaceX to continue the work of completing a Falcon 9 rocket and the commercial ferry vessel Crew Dragon for launch on March 2 on an unilateral trial flight to international space Station. The long-awaited mission is a critical milestone in NASA’s $ 6.8 billion commercial crew program, aimed at ending the government’s only dependency on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry the US and partner astronauts to and from the station in the wake of space shuttle retirement eight years ago.

If all goes well, two NASA astronauts are hoping on board a Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first tested flight in July.

“It’s more than a test flight, it’s really a mission to the International Space Station, it’s part of the commercial crew program that really gets us ready for … crew flying coming later,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, head of space flight at NASA’s headquarters, about the unilateral test flight.

“This is an absolutely critical first step as we move to eventually recurring crew resolution capabilities back here to the United States”

Lifting from Historical Pillow 39A is aimed at 2:49:03 ET ET a from Saturday, at about the moment the Earth’s rotation carries the rocket in the space station’s plane. That’s the only way that current rockets can rendezvous with an orbital target moving at nearly five miles per second.

Backup launch opportunities are available March 5 and March 9, but after that NASA would have to descend until after a Russian Soyuz aircraft scheduled for launch March 1

4 to ferry shooter Alexey Ovchinin, NASA flight engineer Nick Haag and Christina Koch to the station.  022219-dragon.jpg [19659008] An artist’s impression of a SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecra ft on the last approach of the International Space Station. The first unilotated test flight in the SpaceX ferry ship is scheduled to start on March 2.

NASA

Ovchinin and The Hague suffered a dramatic Soyuz booster error at their first climb to space in October, but the canister and crew landed security about 250 miles from the launch site in Kazakhstan. The Russian space organization corrected the problem, revised the launch schedule and Koch, already in training for a downstream flight, was added to the mission.

In any case, NASA executives who participated in the FRR Friday at the Kennedy Space Center have reviewed launch launch so far and the status of remaining “open” things that either have to be resolved or revoked before the flight and those that can be postponed in the short term.

Among the topics discussed were Crew Dragon’s parachute system and test to certify it for use in the upcoming pilot mission, temperature-related problems with the canister actuator and status of reshaped high pressure helicopter tanks, known as COPV, immersed in supercool liquid. acid in the Falcon 9 rocket.

Problem with an earlier version of the tank was due to a spectacular on-pad Falcon 9 explosion 2016. The helium pressurization system was also involved in a flight in flight 2015 when Trut holding a tank in place failed and triggered the destruction of a station-based Dragon freighter.

The question for the Crew Dragon mission is to understand the physics that led to the explosion on the wall and ensure that the remodeled thoughts, known as COPV version 2.0, are not vulnerable to the same fallacy.

“One of the things that the composite compressing vessel has fibers that twist together,” says Gerstenmaier. “When they pressurize, they can break, and when they break, they can potentially generate heat if they can generate enough heat in the oxygen environment they can be an ignition source. “

” So now we go back and we “prove to ourselves that this is unlikely to be so unlikely that it will not be a concern.”

A problem that must resolved in the short term, Russian concerns about computer control and safety systems on board the Crew Dragon that will control the spacecraft’s final approach to the space station.

Gerstenmaier said that European, Japanese and Russian spacecraft rendezvous with the station carry typical independent systems that can interrupt an approach in the event of a powerful computer failure that can leave a ship in a collision course with the lab. Crew Dragon is instead based on redundancy in the primary computer system.

“One of the actions I assigned was to go a little more carefully at any of the error detection and answers to various failures to make sure that the computers do all the right things, that we are not in a situation where the vehicle is essentially dead. or dormant and then just continues his attitude and collide with the station, Gerstenmaier says. [19659003] “It is the basic concern that the Russians raised, why is there not a separate system or a separate box to provide this backup? We believe we have sufficient reasons for that. “

Gerstenmaier said that such technical problems are not unusual in the development of spacecraft with human ratings and to enter the Demo 1 mission,” we have not put the total envelope where some of the hardware can work and how it can be used ” during piloted flights.

“But we know that the hardware is good enough to do this demonstration flight,” he said. We actually want it to go to flight to see if there is anything else we have missed, and we fully expect to learn some things in this fight. “Assuming that Demo 1 takes off on March 2 as planned, Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry out an autonomous rendezvous, catch up with the space station the day after its launch and move in for docking at the lab’s forward port, the same as once used by to visit space shuttles, at 6 am on March 3.

Station crew – Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian physician astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA tab ht engineer Anne McClain – open gaps and inspect the new spacecraft a few hours after docking. 19659024] <img src = “https://cbsnews3.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2019/02/23/3b00582e-d1b8-4853-83a1-791cbbd9f22a/thumbnail/620×411/d6c76cfdeb95c27447db452aed5c692b/022219-f9-dragon .jpg # “alt =” 022219-f9-dragon.jpg “height =” 411 “width =” 620 “class =” lazyload “data-srcset =” https://cbsnews3.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r / 2019/02/23 / 3b00582e-d1b8-4853-83a1-791cbbd9f22a / thumbnail / 620×411 / d6c76cfdeb95c27447db452aed5c692b / 022,219 F9 tarragon. jpg 1x, https: image / svg + xml,% 3Csvg% 20xmlns% 3D & # 39; http% 3A% 2F% 2Fwww.w3.org% 2F2000% 2Fsvg & # 39;% 20viewBox% 3D & # 39; 0 % 200% 20620% 20411 & # 39; % 2F% 3E “/> [19659008] SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon ferry ship, seen here during the launch test in January.

SpaceX

The aircraft require Demo 1 Crew Dragon to be drunk on March 8 and return to an Atlantic splashdown about 230 miles east of Cape Canaveral. Nearby SpaceX recovery personnel will pull the capsules on a ship and retract it to Port Canaveral for detailed post flight inspections.

Suppose no major problems to develop – and assuming an interruption test during the flight goes well in the spring – astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley hope to burst into a Crew Dragon this summer to kick off the first launch of American astronauts aboard a US-made rocket from US soil since the shuttle program ended in July 2011.

NASA also finances the development of a Boeing capsule called the CST-100 Starliner which is scheduled for an unilateral launch on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket later this spring. The first piloted Starliner flight, carrying Boeing astronaut Christopher Ferguson and NASA crew members Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke, is scheduled for the fall.

If these flights go well, operational US crew swing flights could begin before the end of the year.

The final contracted US Soyuz flight is scheduled for launch in July. Considering the serious occurrence of unexpected problems with the commercial crew ships, NASA is studying an alternative to buying two more Soyuz sites, one for use in the fall and the other next spring.

SpaceX currently has NASA contracts valued at $ 3.04 billion for 20 space station resupply flights and another contract for an unspecified amount for at least six additional flights by 2024.

SpaceX also has a 2.6 billion NASA contract for building and launching a piloted version of its capsule capsule. Boeing won a $ 4.2 billion contract to build the CST-100.

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