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SpaceX is launching a crucial test this weekend for NASA


In the Saturday morning hours, SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets to the Florida sky and executes a rubber-powered space ship to the International Space Station. The Spacex's New Crew Dragon Capsule – the company's first vehicle to transport people to space.

Although the capsule is designed for passengers, no one will be on board this way. This is because the heart of the flight is a test. The mission of Demonstration-1 or DM-1 is to show NASA that the crew's dragon deserves and is safe for future crew members.

NASA is particularly concerned about this, because the first person to fly the Team Dragon will be NASA astronauts. Crew Dragon is a critical part of the Space Agency's Commercial Team program, which uses private spacecraft to propel NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Both SpaceX and the Boeing airline have been given capsules for this purpose, and after five years of development, SpaceX can be the first to place his car in space. If everything goes well, the next time a person goes into the orbit, the staff's dragon can be included.

Why the DM-1 is what's waiting, and what happens after it's over.

Why is this important?

When NASA's spacecraft stopped in 2011, the space agency lost the main way to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Since then, NASA has been acquiring space on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to receive US astronauts and international partners for ISS. This is a costly arrangement, costing $ 81 million for NASA. Currently, NASA's only option. If Soyuz would stop for a long time, NASA has no way to bring people into space.

Therefore, over the past decade, NASA has been working to get its astronauts back to US-made vehicles. Through the Trading Team Program, NASA has signed contracts for both SpaceX and Boeing, worth $ 2.6 billion and $ 4.2 billion, to partially finance the development of new vehicles for astronauts. And start from ISS. Since then, Boeing has been working on his CST-100 Starliner, while SpaceX has developed Crew Dragon.


SpaceX and Boeing Two Capsules Artistic Appearance in Space and International Space Station
Image: NASA

Both vehicles are flying this year, Boeing tried his first test in April. It was a long and bumpy way to reach this point. When NASA first signed up for SpaceX and Boeing in 2014, the goal is to fly the first astronauts by 2017. But many delays and technical hurdles prevented this goal. NASA's security advisers raised concerns about certain aspects of vehicle designs, while other experts questioned SpaceX's plans to refuel their missiles on board.

Slowly but surely, these concerns will be resolved, and NASA will welcome the Crew Dragon on its upcoming mission.

How will it work?

The introduction will be similar to the other missions. SpaceX flew to the International Space Station. Crew Dragon is an updated version of the company's Dragon pallet capsule that SpaceX has been supplying to astronauts at the international space station since 2012. SpaceX Falcon 9 Rockets.


SpaceX's Crew Dragon is at the top of Falcon 9, which transports it to space. SpaceX "staff access arm" extends toward the capsule.
Image: NASA

The car comes from the SpaceX launchpad from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Canaveral Cape. In 2014, the company took over the Kennedy showroom when it once used NASA's Saturn V rocket to the Moon and the old shuttle missions. SpaceX has modified the cushion for the Falcon 9 flights and added other hardware needed to train future staff. One of these additions is a new tunnel that connects to a tower near the bench, so that the astronauts finally pass through the spaceship.

The DM-1 will arrive on Saturday, March 2, at 2:49 am. THE very The early launch time allows the capsule to meet the International Space Station on its course. By now, the weather looks very good for the introduction, with an 80 percent chance that the terms will be favorable.

What will happen to this mission?

NASA says Crew Dragon is equipped with various tools and cameras that collect data during flight. This carries about 400 kilos of cargo and similarly to future capsules when people are on board. There is also a dummy inside the capsule, which is wearing an individual flight suit designed by SpaceX for future passengers.

As Crew Dragon's orbit circulates, the Earth travels a few times before approaching the International Space Station about one day later. One of the most important differences between this introduction and the standard cargo mission is the docking process. So far, all SpaceX's cargo operations have been transferred to the ISS, which means that the vehicles are close to the station and then caught by an astronaut-operated robot arm. The arm brings the capsules closer to the station and connects to the port.


An Artistic Look at SpaceX's Crew Dragon Docking at the International Space Station
Image: SpaceX

Crew Dragon does not require a robotic arm for the International Space Station. Designed to automatically dock the ISS independently with a combination of software, lasers and sensors. In 2016, astronauts installed a new docking adapter on the outside of the International Space Station, which will be the target of Crew Dragon for this flight. If all goes well, Crew Dragon must be set to ISS on Sunday March 3, 6AM ET.

When it arrives, the spacecraft's opening opens and the ISS's three crews will have a slightly welcoming ceremony: NASA's astronaut, Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques, Canadian astronaut and Oleg Kononenko, Russian astronaut. The trio also enters to check and unload the cargo.

The capsule lasts less than a week for the ISS, four days later on Thursday, March 7th. Crew Dragon leaves the ISS at an early stage, at 2:30 pm and farther away from the station. After 7:30 pm, the capsule will light the engine and get out of the track, sinking to Earth. The parachute system installs the capsule carefully in the Atlantic until 8:45 pm. NASA hopes to have a good view of this parachute installation in order to qualify the flight system for future staff.

What's next?

Both NASA and SpaceX spend time following the DM-1 evaluation. In about a month, it will be time for the next big launch of SpaceX – one that will try out the company's emergency escape system.

I know the "in-flight interruption", this scenario, that SpaceX would do if Falcon 9 missiles during flight, creating a dangerous environment for the crew. The eight engines, Super Dracos, embedded in the Crew Dragon capsule structure, can launch and launch the vehicle from a defective missile.

SpaceX is planning to test this ability with the help of the same staff dragon that will start this weekend. The company launches the capsule from Florida and sends a command to activate the interrupt system. The rocket stops during the test, while the Crew Dragon engines remove the capsule. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk mentioned Twitter during the test, "it is highly likely that this rocket will be destroyed".

Once NASA is satisfied with the space ship's security procedure, the SpaceX capsule will circulate with people on board, possibly in July. SpaceX's first trial run includes two people, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who are NASA veterans. During the journey, the two docked with the ISS and spent a few weeks in orbit on the Crew Dragon vehicle. Then they start off in the Atlantic where one of SpaceX's ships is designed to recover the capsule.

If this mission goes well, NASA will make a final decision to certify the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the regular space station staff. There is still much to do now. But this weekend flight will be a big step in putting people in a SpaceX vehicle.

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