This past week, the Crew Dragon made its way from California to Florida, where it will prepare to launch from U.S. soil to the International Space Station later this year.
On February 13, 2020 the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft arrived at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the next step of preparation for the historic mission that will take two astronauts to the ISS. After all testing is completed the spacecraft will be moved to Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral where it will eventually launch from.
The mission will be the first crewed launch for Crew Dragon.
A HISTORIC MISSION
The collaboration between SpaceX, who are providing the spacecraft, and NASA, who are providing the astronauts, is a historic one. The launch from Kennedy Space Center is slated to be the first crew launch from American soil since the ending of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
In January of 2019 The Verge released an exclusive look into the DM-2 mission. According to that article, the when of the mission is directly dependent on how successful test launches are. From the article: "NASA wants to make sure the vehicles are ready and the safest they can be before flight . . . that means it’s still very much a question of when Behnken and Hurley will fly."
Well, that successful test launch occurred just last month. On January 19, 2020 the Crew Dragon flawlessly performed an in-flight abort test in which it separated from the Falcon 9 Rocket.
The test was an important step toward preparation for the future crewed mission because, as SpaceX tweeted, "[It] verified the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent"
MEET THE ASTRONAUTS
Image: Jim Bridenstine
Back in January we saw astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley suited up for a rehearsal launch. The two astronauts were selected by NASA in 2018 along with seven other astronauts to be the first crews to fly in commercial spacecrafts.
Of being selected, Hurly commented back in 2018, "“The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot, and you don’t think it’s ever going to happen to you . . . Bob and I are extremely excited to put Crew Dragon through its paces in space and get to the International Space Station again.”
As part of the commercial crew program, NASA has partnered with SpaceX and Boeing. Both private companies have developed their own spacecrafts to transport astronauts to the ISS from the United States.
With the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft's arrival in Florida, it seems that SpaceX will beat Boeing to sent first crewed commercial spacecraft to the ISS. While Boeing has no set date for a crewed launch, the DM-2 mission is currently planned to occur around April 2020 following a successful uncrewed test launch earlier this year.
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