Los Angeles – You start to feel like something real. Both Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Elon Musk have contracts with NASA to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of what is known as the Commercial Crew Program, Bloomberg said.
Seven years after the end of the Space Shuttle program, NASA presented the astronauts who will fly with both companies.
Now comes the difficult part.
Last Monday, at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the media and, more importantly, the SpaceX staff had the opportunity to meet the four astronauts who will fly in the "Crew Dragon", the spaceship that SpaceX designed for astronauts. safely to the orbital laboratory.
These are the next big steps that SpaceX and the Dragon team will take:
Demo-1: SpaceX will perform an unmanned demonstration mission without people on board known as Demo-1. The Crew Dragon ship assigned to the Demo-1 was subjected to a thermal vacuum and acoustic tests at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Ohio and arrived in Florida last month. Demo-1 is currently scheduled for November.
Interrupted flight test: SpaceX will demonstrate its ability to quickly move the Dragon capsule to a safe place in case a Falcon 9 missile event is detected. There will be no astronauts on board for this test, which will be carried out in the Complex. Release 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Neither NASA nor Space have specified a specific month; but the test is likely to take place early next year.
Demo-2: After the Demo-1 and the interruption test, the Air Force Colonel, Bob Behnken, and the Navy's pilot of the Navy, Doug Hurley, will be the first two astronauts to fly in the dragon, the one that will are released from the Kennedy Space Center.
Hurley, who has been working at NASA for 18 years, said he would like to wear the white space costumes that SpaceX designed when you saw the launch of Falcon Heavy in February, when the mannequin "Starman" wore one while he was behind the wheel. Tesla Roadster cherry red color Musk.
"The old spacesuits were very heavy," Hurley said. "SpaceX has started all over again and made it here, it's really something to see, I've dressed the suit 20 times and it's lighter and much more comfortable."
The Demo-2: is currently scheduled for April 2019. Although SpaceX and Boeing are competing to see who is bringing the astronauts first to the ISS, both companies and NASA said they are more focused on security than on meeting with programming.
"We are not going to fly before we have a safe flight," said SpaceX operational manager Gwynne Shotwell during the event on Monday. "We have to meet all the requirements and do everything we can to get the astronauts off the earth as long as NASA permits."
After SpaceX successfully completes Demo-2, NASA will certify the spacecraft and its systems for regular manned launches to the ISS, with astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover being the first to be sent into space during an operational mission.
But even with all safety measures and tests that have been carried out, astronauts know that space flights are extremely dangerous. "The only thing I'm afraid of," said Glover, who is married and has four daughters, "can not go home with my family."
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