SpaceX Crew Dragon Flight Test Launches on January 7

SpaceX Crew Dragon 1 photo
In less than two months, we will be entering the year that should define the next decades of space exploration. Tests, both crewed and uncrewed, are planned for three astronaut capsules: the SpaceX Crew Dragon, Boeing Starliner, and NASA Orion.
The first of the bunch to fly to outer space is the Crew Dragon, which is scheduled to take off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on January 7. It will be an uncrewed flight, but one of extreme historical significance for NASA and the American space program.

It will be the first launch of an astronaut carrying capable capsule from American soil since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011. It will also be the first flight of the Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s crazy idea of asking for help from the private sector, an idea that has reignited mankind’s dreams of heading for the stars.

The flight test will be conducted to gather relevant data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems.

If all goes well, NASA targets a crewed test for June 2019 in a Crew Dragon capsule. Sometime in between these two events, the agency will conduct in-flight abort tests for the spacecraft.

Boeing’s turn will be up in March, when the Starliner will be launched empty. Pad abort tests will follow, and in August 2019 the first crewed mission of Boeing’s capsule is scheduled.

Overall, both capsules will go through an uncrewed test and a crewed one, before being ready for their first real missions.

For SpaceX’s crewed test flight, NASA assigned Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, both members of several Endeavour and Atlantis missions. The first real mission of the capsule, still unscheduled, will see Victor Glover, at his first flight to space, and ISS veteran Michael Hopkins climb onboard.

Boeing's capsule will be crewed during the test flight by Eric Boe and Christopher Ferguson, both shuttle missions veterans, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, at her first flight to space. The first mission has been tasked to Josh Cassada, who will be flying for the first time in space, and ISS astronaut Sunita Williams.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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