SpaceX to simulate astronaut ejection in final test

20 Janvier, 2020, 06:24 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • This NASA TV video frame grab shows a SpaceX rocket as it launches to perform an in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft which was unmanned for the apparently successful test

Once it's pulled from the ocean, the data from its flight computers and sensors will be subject to analysis before SpaceX attempts its first launch with human passengers.

The sleek white and black spacesuits worn by astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken for Friday's practice matched the white Tesla roadster with wing-like doors waiting for them outside Kennedy's crew quarters. That was originally designed as a short-term mission, on the order of a couple weeks, but NASA is leaving the door open to extending that mission by an unspecified amount.

"Do we want that first crew to be a short duration (mission)?"

"This requires ongoing discussions with with with NASA, but I think it'd be quite quite cool to use the boats that we are using to catch the fairing", Musk said. But extending the mission, he said, would ensure NASA can get "the maximum amount of capability" out of the station.

The Dragon astronaut capsule on top fired its escape engines to carry itself clear of the "faulty" booster. It will also be the first time that NASA is a customer paying for transportation services provided by a USA commercial entity.

Bridenstine specifically mentioned spacewalks in his comments at the press conference. There was no crew on board for the test.

The timing isn't the only thing about Demo-2 that remains uncertain.

Both SpaceX and Boeing were supposed to make their "astronaut taxi services" available in 2017, but the companies have had to grapple with - and overcome - some tricky technical challenges.

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NASA asked the private sector to develop crew-worthy spacecraft to replace the Space Shuttle program after it was retired in 2011.

Boeing suffered a setback when its Starliner spacecraft malfunctioned during an orbital test flight in December, and it's not clear when the vehicle will be ready for crewed missions. The exact flight duration, NASA said then, would be decided at a later date, but all three astronauts have been performing training for ISS operations alongside that for the Starliner test flight itself.

SpaceX completed the last big test of its crew capsule before launching astronauts in as little as two months, mimicking an emergency escape shortly after liftoff Sunday.

Also scheduled for this week: SpaceX will launch the next batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit on Monday 20 January 2020, as part of Musk's plan to provide a global broadband Internet network. "That's why it's much more in the discussion than it was before".

This was considered to be the last major milestone for California's SpaceX company before the U.S. space agency (Nasa) certifies the firm to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.

The Crew Dragon for Behnken and Hurley is due to be delivered to Kennedy Space Center by the end of this month, and Musk said the hardware should be ready to fly by the end of March.

According to NASA, one minute and 30 seconds minutes into the flight the Falcon 9 was passing through the point known as Max Q - the moment when the booster goes through its peak mechanical stress.

SpaceX, for example, saw one of its capsules explode on a testbed in April past year.

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