SpaceX shows the Dragon Crew at the top of Falcon 9 when the government's shutdown kills the moment



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Late last week, SpaceX published official photos of Crew Dragon's first trip to Launch Complex 39A (Pad 39A) on its specially certified Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, showing what appears to have been a success check and an important precursor to the premiere launch of the company's first human-class spacecraft.

Despite the obvious readiness of SpaceX's equipment and facilities for this historic mission, the company found a brick wall that almost indefinitely killed almost all of the thrust toward Crew Dragon's first trip into orbit, appearing in the form of elected leaders so inept that they have failed to adequately fund the bureaucracies that have sustained the vast majority of the federal government for more than three weeks, including NASA.

NASA has been severely hit by the shutdown since it began on Dec. 21 and has operated with only 5 percent capacity since then, just a little bit like the equivalent of playing a bucket of keys on an intricately complex machine. Simply put, the whole agency is more or less paralyzed, plus the most basic of operations and the support of spaceships and facilities that can not stop for the convenience of children's games of political arrogance. Impaired parts of the agency include those involved in the CCP's certification work and general program support, translating directly into an almost indefinite pause at the debut of the Crew Dragon stand-alone release known as DM- 1.

Despite the ironic fact that its operations would probably be considered critical and therefore free from the impact of a government shutdown, once the SpaceX crew and Boeing Starliner are demonstrated and declared operational, almost every programmatic aspect of the Program of Commercial Crews currently fall into critical categories as both providers prepare for their first demonstration missions unfurled into orbit. These stand-alone demo missions will be immediately followed by manned demonstration missions in which NASA astronauts will fly to the International Space Station before NASA can finally complete the operational certification of Crew Dragon and Starliner.

Simultaneously ironic and painfully painful, the first manned operational launches are explicitly dependent on certifications to immediately follow demonstration launches, which depend on receiving NASA certifications after launching the demonstration of each spacecraft for the first time. As such, any delay in CCPs of demonstration launches will likely translate into a nearly 1: 1 delay (if not worse) for the operational debut of both spacecraft, already operating dangerously close to the ISS 'guaranteed access edge thanks to a range of delays caused by technical challenges and slow NASA.

NASA currently has contracts to launch Soyuz rockets and spacecraft from the Russian space agency Roscosmos to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, and those contracts must be terminated permanently in November 2019, although the end of NASA's access to Soyuz could potentially be postponed until the first quarter of 2020. Finally, a single month of delays at this stage of the debut preparations for the SpaceX launch on Crew Dragon could lead to further delays for the DM-2 and PCM-1 crewmembers ( Post-Certification Mission) missions and beyond, all of which are heavily , completing a vast sea of ​​paperwork that would probably be in progress right now, if 95% of agency staff were not waived.

The DM-1 and Falcon 9 were greeted by an extraordinary – though slightly bittersweet – dawn during their first trip to Pad 39A. (SpaceX)

Fortunately, SpaceX has at least managed to run a dry launch of Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon on Pad 39A, probably serving as an integrated tuning test for rockets, spacecraft and new pad infrastructure, which includes a brand new crew access arm . (CAA) installed near the end of 2018. Although spectacular and seemingly successful, it is undeniably difficult to ignore the damage of the government's shutdown and inevitable delays in the timeline it will cause.

SpaceX and its hardware are clearly ready for business – how long do we have to wait for US elected representatives to show a similar interest in doing their job?


For up-to-the-minute updates, ground-breaking perspectives and unique glimpses of SpaceX's rocket recovery fleet, check out our brand-new LaunchPad and LandingZone news bulletins!

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