tech2 News StaffMar 04, 2019 19:31:10 IST
SpaceX is hours away from a demo test flight of its new Dragon capsule designed for astronauts.
The test flight will last six days, and be real in every way – liftoff from Florida on Saturday, docking to the International Space Station (ISS) the following day. But the Dragon capsule won't be carrying humans onboard, just the next best thing: a test dummy that's named after and looks identical to Eileen Ripley from the Alien films.
Ripley will wear the same, white SpaceX spacesuit that astronauts will in future missions.
NASA doesn't expect this test to go perfectly. But they have their interest in the mission for good reason – two NASA astronauts strap into a Dragon as early as July. This is part of early tests involving SpaceX and Boeing to find a safe and reliable shuttle service for NASA's astronauts to the ISS.
Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching US astronauts on US rockets from US soil.
Giant leaps are made by a series of consistent smaller steps. This one will be a big step! Good luck to @nasa & @SpaceX on tomorrow’s 1st test flight of a commercially built & operated American rocket & spacecraft designed for humans to launch to @Space_Station! #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/xh6LalyZpY
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) February 28, 2019
NASA is turning to private taxi rides to reduce its pricey reliance on Russia to get astronauts to and from the space station. NASA is providing $8 billion for SpaceX and Boeing to build and operate new systems to take over from the Soyuz rockets.
"On a personal level, this is an extremely important mission," SpaceX executive Hans Koenigsmann told reporters Thursday. "And I'm pretty sure it's not just me, I think everybody within SpaceX feels this and wants to get this right."
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 28, 2019
When to watch?
The Dragon capsule is scheduled for launch at 2.49 am EST (that's 1.19 pm IST) on Saturday, 2 March from Florida. Once the Dragon capsule is launched into space and heading for the space station, updates from NASA and SpaceX's social feeds will keep us looped in on how the rest of the mission goes.
Where to watch?
What's at stake?
Apart from a new project and guaranteed funding for their manned space vehicles, whichever company delivers astronauts first wins a small US flag left at the station by the last shuttle crew in 2011.
Astronaut Doug Hurley from NASA and Christopher Ferguson from Boeing – both astronauts that flew on the last space shuttle mission in 2011 — will take the new commercial capsules to the space station on a test drive in April 2019.
Hurley will ride the Dragon and Ferguson the Starliner.
Here's a look at what the newest space ride is capable of.
Find our entire collection of stories, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos & more on Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission on our dedicated #Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.