SpaceX set for crew demo launch

New NASA Mission To Study Space Weather From International Space Station

The Crew Dragon capsule, which is designed for astronauts, will not be carrying any human crew when it makes its journey to the International Space Station.

"Space weather is important because it can have profound impacts-affecting technology and astronauts in space, disrupting radio communications and, at its most severe, overwhelming power grids", says NASA.

In a nod to the iconic movie "Alien", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a picture that appeared to show the dummy sat in the capsule.

A Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon space capsule on top, rolls out from the horizontal integration facility at Kennedy Space Center and begins to make its way toward the launch pad on February 28, 2019.

SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft and its Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX has successfully launched and even reused its Dragon cargo capsule, but this will be the first flight for the Crew Dragon, and there are some differences from its predecessor.

The Dragon is due to stay docked to the station for five days, and then unhook itself and descend to an Atlantic Ocean splashdown on March 8.

"The uncrewed flight tests are a great dry run for not only our hardware, but for our team to get ready for our crewed flight tests", Kathy Lueders, manager of the commercial crew program, said in a news release.

Though uncrewed, Saturday's Demo-1 test flight will feature a single spacesuit-wearing astronaut dummy. There may also need to be some design tweaks made in the Dragon's thruster system.

William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA, said at a news conference last week that the launch "is an absolutely critical first step".

Its Falcon 9 rockets have resupplied the space station 15 times in seven years, even though one of them blew up in 2015.

I guarantee everything will not work exactly right and that's cool.

See the interior of the Crew Dragon in the video below. Once NASA and SpaceX are happy, then it's time for the real deal: sending astronauts up on a Crew Dragon scheduled to launch in mid-2019.

The two companies will also have to do abort tests before their crewed missions. Its crew demo will take place in mid-2019.

Human spaceflight is basically the core mission of SpaceX.

SpaceX vice president for build and flight reliability, Hans Koenigsmann, told reporters on Thursday that the company has completed "an incredible amount of testing to make sure that everything is safe and ready to go".

"There is nothing more important for us than this endeavour, and we really appreciate the opportunity from Nasa to do this".

The initial SpaceX mission to the ISS will be crewed by NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, according to the space agency.

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