SpaceX debuts crew capsule in test flight


SpaceX closed a space flight with the debut of a new capsule designed for astronauts.

The six-day test flight will be real in all respects, starting with a takeoff in Florida on Saturday and a berth the next day with the International Space Station.

But the Dragon's capsule carries no humans, but a test dummy in the same white SpaceX suit as the astronauts will wear.

NASA does not expect that crucial cruising for the shakedown to go perfectly. But lessons learned should improve safety when two NASA astronauts attach themselves to a dragon as early as July.

Boeing is also in the running to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching US astronauts on US rockets from North American soil.

The space agency is turning to private taxi races to reduce its reliance on Russian rockets to take astronauts to and from the space station. NASA is providing $ 8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing to build and operate these new systems.

SpaceX made 16 spacecraft deliveries over the past seven years. The private company has revised the Dragon's cargo capsule to make it safe – and comfortable – for passengers.

It's a bit bigger – 27 feet (8 meters) tall – and also launches on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. But now there are four seats, three windows, computer touch screens and life support systems.

Instead of solar wings, the solar cells are in the spacecraft itself. And eight engines are built into the capsule walls for use in an emergency; these abortion mechanisms can trigger the capsule of a defective rocket at any point during launch.

A life-size test dummy – using SpaceX's new space suit – is tied in one of the capsule seats. The mannequin is equipped with sensors to see how it behaves.

The capsule can accommodate up to seven astronauts. For this test, you are loading 450 pounds (200 kg) of supplies and equipment.

SpaceX is shooting for a team's July launch, but that may drop depending on the results of the upcoming demo and a launch abortion test this spring. Several items – parachutes and thrusters, among others – still need work and possibly redesign before being certified for human use.

Boeing is targeting an April test flight of its unmanned Starliner capsule, and a launch with three astronauts not before August. Whatever the company that delivers the astronauts, it wins for the first time a small US flag at the station by the last crew of the space shuttle in 2011.

NASA's Doug Hurley and Boeing's Christopher Ferguson – who flew on that last mission – will test the new commercial capsules. Hurley will ride the dragon and Ferguson, the Starliner.

Originally published as SpaceX debuts crew capsule in test flight


Source link