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NASA Final Dragon Review, which has now been installed for a test flight on March 2



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It's time to fly crew on SpaceX's spacecraft spaces.
Enlarge / / It's time to fly crew on SpaceX's spacecraft spaces.

SpaceX

On Friday, NASA's key officials gathered in a large meeting room at the Kennedy Space Center. Here, for decades, NASA managers reviewed analyzes about the next space shuttle mission and, more often than not, clearing the vehicle to launch. But after 2011, there were no more crew vehicles to review.

That changed this week when NASA nominated "flight readiness review" for Space Crew Dragon's spacecraft for its initial test flight, without people on board. By Friday night, the meeting was over and, among NASA and SpaceX officials, the Dragon-runner was ready for a demonstration mission as part of the commercial crew program on March 2. There is a launch time for and rocket Falcon 9 at 2: 48am ET (07:48 UTC), from Kennedy Space Center. "I'm ready to fly," NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, said concisely.

The mood was astonishing among NASA's leadership as well as an official SpaceX official on the scene, Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of the company's and flight reliability. He had also taken part in the flight readiness review in the storied room where so many shuttle meetings were held. "It was a really big deal for SpaceX, and I personally," he said.

Lighting space has almost return to the US. This Demo-1 mission must be launched successfully, doc to the International Space Station about 24 hours later, and then return to the Earth a few days later under barasites in light conditions. Provided that this test is going well, and after SpaceX had an in-flight test of the capsule escape system, the first mission of a Florida crew to orbit could take place later this summer of Florida.

NASA has been waiting for a long time for this time, since July, 2011, when the space shuttle made its last flight and the agency retired from incredible vehicles.

Real test

This will not be a pro forma test. Although Lueders and other NASA officials are comfortable with the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space rides for this test plane, there are some issues that they want to close before the spokesman Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken I launch the space on a similar rocket and capsule.

NASA still collects data about the weighing vessels of a composite tidal composite station, or COPV, which are basically bottles that store rocket fuels at a very high pressure. Engineers also want to ensure that there is enough edge in Dwellings for landing safely under different conditions, and to study some concerns about the propellant feeding system in the Dragon space car. Finally, mannequin will fly inside the vehicle during the test plane to put pressure on people during the trip.

"The vehicle has not been fully qualified for crew flight, but we know that the hardware is good enough for this trip," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's main human space websites. "We expect to learn some things. We want to make the most of your learning."

An outstanding issue

With regard to the March 2 launch date, Gerstenmaier stated that only one excellent issue had to do with software that is about the vehicle's approach to the International Space Station. Normally, a computerized computer medium will have an automatic control system to control its flight, and a separate box, except to handle this function if the main computers are going down. The Dragon Crew does not have this function.

Russia, the lead partner of NASA on the station, has raised concerns about this, stating that, if this system were going out, the spacecraft may turn into the station. Gerstenmaier said he believed NASA had "adequate logic" for the Dragon computer system as he is, and who expects to work with the Russian officials this week, before the launch.

The station has a busy schedule in March and April, so there is a narrow edge to get this off the ground. The next launch of the Russian Soyuz crew has scheduled for March 14, and then there are three space trips and two cargo trips at the end of March and April. In anticipation of possible weather or technical issues, SpaceX should have three opportunities to launch between March 2 and March 9, but if this window fails it is not clear when the company would have another attempt .

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