SpaceX Crew Dragon launch today

02 March, 2019, 10:26 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • This image courtesy of SpaceX and obtained from NASA shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space

The Crew Dragon forms a key part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, incorporating next-generation SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft to ferry United States astronauts to and from the ISS.

The flight, if successful, will be the first time a spaceship capable of carrying people that is commercially built and operated will travel to the International Space Station.

Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching USA astronauts on United States rockets from U.S. soil. "And I'm pretty sure it's not just me, I think everybody within SpaceX feels this and wants to get this right".

This launch is the opening gun in a new space race, specifically as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

While SpaceX has flown Dragon cargo capsules to the International Space Station, the crew version is longer and heavier and created to hold four astronauts.

Ripley is wearing SpaceX's Commercial Crew space suit with its already iconic black visor and white design that was revealed in August 2017.

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SpaceX's 16-foot-tall (4.88-meter-) Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket was set for lift off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. (1049 GMT) local time.

The Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) mission will cost United States dollars 42 million and is planned to launch in August 2022, attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS).

The six-day test flight is a crucial step in SpaceX's plan to provide human spaceflight. The Roadster launched on top of the first successfully launched Falcon Heavy rocket last February. If everything isn't flawless and ready to go right at 2:49 a.m. EST, the launch will be pushed back to Tuesday at the earliest. "And that's cool", Bill Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for NASA's human spaceflight program, said during a launch briefing last week, The Washington Post reports. The three space station astronauts will enter the Dragon, unload the fresh supplies on board and then fill it with science samples and old equipment. Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the US has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from Kazakhstan, to get astronauts to the ISS.

After a five-day stay, the spacecraft will undock next Friday, March 8, plunging back into the atmosphere for a parachute descent to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 230 miles east of Cape Canaveral. Following the static fire test of the SpaceX rocket with the capsule on top, the company's CEO and founder, Elon Musk, tweeted that if the uncrewed launch went well, he expected the first crewed launch sometime during the summer.

The crew capsule is based on the ISS cargo freighter but incorporates life-support systems and more powerful thrusters to push the vessel to safety if something goes wrong with the rocket. Hurley will ride the Dragon and Ferguson the Starliner.

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