SpaceX, Elon Musk’s corporation, is ready for a historic launch of the Dragon spacecraft. It planned to fly SpaceX’s first-ever mission with astronauts onboard. This week, Dragon has reached its Florida launch platform ahead of the historic liftoff in just a couple of days.
The NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida has welcomed on Friday night the Crew Dragon capsule. It has arrived at Launch Complex 39A of, making the short trek from SpaceX’s processing facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
For SpaceX, a capsule’s arrival markes another big milestone in corporation’s leadup to the planned launch of the Demo-2 mission on May 27.
Next week, Demo-2 will carry NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
The May 27 liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will be the first orbital human spaceflight to launch from US soil since NASA’s space shuttle fleet retired in July 2011. Over almost a decade, the Agency has relied solely on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to perform such a taxi service.
Crew Dragon has made one trip to the ISS already, an uncrewed jaunt called Demo-1 that launched in March 2019. SpaceX launched another Crew Dragon in January to demonstrate the spacecraft’s in-flight abort system in case of an emergency during the trip to space.
Demo-2 to pave the way for operational crewed flights to and from the ISS
According to the engineers, Demo-2 is designed to fully validate the Crew Dragon-Falcon 9 system, paving the way for operational crewed flights to and from the ISS. SpaceX holds a $2.6 billion contract to fly six such missions, the first of which is expected to launch later this year if all goes well with Demo-2.
The activity at KSC is going to ramp up considerably over the next week and a half as SpaceX and NASA gear up for the launch. For example, Behnken and Hurley will fly to KSC from their home base, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston tomorrow.
In addition, NASA’s Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review to decide if the mission is ready for a May 27 launch will begin the following day, agency officials said.
Like SpaceX, Boeing holds an astronaut-ferrying contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which the aerospace giant will fulfill using a capsule called the CST-100 Starliner.
However, Boeing isn’t ready to start flying people; Starliner encountered problems during its version of Demo-1, which launched this past December, and wasn’t able to meet up with the ISS as planned.
To sum it up, Boeing will re-fly that uncrewed mission before putting astronauts aboard Starliner, The Space reported.