Capsule to carry US astronauts to be tested in March

Capsule to carry US astronauts to be tested in March

NASA announced this morning that the company is targeting March 2 for an uncrewed first flight of its Dragon crew capsule. All problems were solved, and SpaceX is ready to finally launch the Crew Dragon for the first test flight.

The test flights for NASA's highly anticipated Commercial Crew Program to return astronauts to space from US soil are happening a litter later than initially expected.

Boeing, which is also contracting with NASA to carry astronauts to the space station, was planning a March test of its Starliner capsule, but that flight was pushed back Wednesday to no earlier than April. NASA astronauts Michael Fincke and Nicole Aunapu Mann, as well as Boeing astronaut Christopher Ferguson will participate in the second flight.

The Crew Dragon, which is created to take astronauts to the ISS, will need to undergo its first uncrewed test flight before next steps. The capsule, which was supposed to go to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 7, has been delayed twice already since then, Engadget reported. NASA and SpaceX said these first flights are "dress rehearsals" for future missions.

Of course, this new timeline also assumes that these initial test flights aren't delayed further.

"There still are many critical steps to complete before launch and while we eagerly are anticipating these launches, we will step through our test flight preparations and readiness reviews", said Lueders.

The Crew Dragon will blast off towards the ISS for two weeks in a bid to prove its reliability and safety in carrying astronauts into space.

"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".

"Following the test flights, NASA will review performance data and resolve any necessary issues to certify the systems for operational missions", the agency said.

If schedules hold, the crewed launches this summer will be the first to take off from USA soil carrying humans to low-Earth orbit since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Once they are completed, the Starliner will be certified by NASA for regular flights to the ISS.

"Commercial crew has continued working toward these historic missions throughout the month of January". Both craft will then have to perform abort tests and a test mission with crew aboard.

In order to meet NASA's requirements, both SpaceX and Boeing must demonstrate an ability to safely and efficiently transport crews into space.