NASA greenlights SpaceX crew capsule test to ISS

February 23, 2019
A Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX is scheduled to lift off, weather permitting, on March 2 to take the Crew Dragon test capsule to the ISS

NASA on Friday gave SpaceX the green light to test a new crew capsule by first sending an unmanned craft with a life-sized mannequin to the International Space Station.

"We're go for launch, we're go for docking," said William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator with NASA Human Exploration and Operations.

A Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX is scheduled to lift off, weather permitting, on March 2 to take the Crew Dragon test capsule to the ISS.

NASA signed contracts in 2014 with SpaceX and Boeing for the companies to shuttle US astronauts to the ISS.

This will be the first time the US space agency lets a private-sector company transport their astronauts.

NASA ended its space-shuttle program in 2011 and since then has relied on buying spots on Russian Soyuz rockets to send US astronauts to the orbiting ISS.

"This is an absolutely critical first step that we do as we move towards returning the crewed launch capability back here to the US," said Gerstenmaier, speaking at a press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The March 2 flight will be identical to a flight that is set to take two astronauts to the ISS later in the year, possibly in July.

The Crew Dragon capsule has seven seats. It should dock with the ISS on March 3, then detach and return to Earth on March 8.

"I guarantee everything will not work exactly right, and that's cool, that's exactly what we want to do," said Gerstenmaier.

"We want to maximize our learning so when... we're ready to go do a real crewed mission, and it'll be the right safety for our crews."

SpaceX has already made more than a dozen unmanned trips since 2012 carrying supplies to the ISS with the cargo version of the Dragon capsule.

But the safety criteria for manned flights are higher, and NASA said that the Crew Dragon still has some problems, including with its parachutes.

"It's a really big deal for SpaceX," said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of the company founded by billionaire Elon Musk.

Explore further: NASA, SpaceX aim for March test of first new astronaut capsule

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

betterexists
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2019
So, To Watch for are :
1) March, 2 Flight
2) Flight Set To take 2 Astronauts to ISS - Later in the year, possibly in July !
WakeUp
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2019
Our tax dollars well spent! Keep up Elon!
NoStrings
4 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2019
Excellent, this is finally substantial progress in private space industry. I am so glad.
Sadly, highlights the NASA government-corporate waste of hundreds of billions going for decades. The shuttle program was a poster boy of failure, but it was only a tip of the iceberg.

My wish is that Musk and SpaceX succeeds in all ongoing plans. Same as you, WakeUp.
V4Vendicar
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 23, 2019
SpaceX = Government Employee
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2019
They should've just sent Amber Heard. She's mannequiny.
Natriarchy
3 / 5 (6) Feb 23, 2019
How sad that NASA can't even get their own astronauts to space. Now instead of hitchhiking our astronauts can call space Uber, thank you Elon.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.