SpaceX is going through the final rounds of tests for its iconic Crew Dragon spacecraft. If successful, SpaceX could be the first private company to send astronauts to space
Demo-2 is one of the most highly anticipated launches in SpaceX’s career because if all goes as planned, it’ll be the first private spacecraft to carry humans to low-Earth orbit.
In 2014, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was given $2.6 billion as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew contract—a deal that would help NASA garner its independence from Russia and re-establish the United States as a contender in crewed spaceflight.
But since then, there have been some delays, financially and technically, that have prevented the SpaceX team from getting the Crew Dragon capsule ready for launch. SpaceX did have a successful unmanned demonstration mission, Demo-1, in March 2019 showing off the capsule’s capabilities to go to the International Space Station (ISS) and back.
Though the SpaceX team notoriously lost that first Crew Dragon (Demo-1) in a following static fire test in April, but since then, the team has been steadfast in a multitude of tests to improve the capsule.
Most of the final tests are extra safety demonstrations SpaceX wants to take to showcase the functionality of the spacecraft, ensuring the security of the astronauts onboard.
And while NASA has expressed concerns over parachute systems based on previous tests where the spacecraft hit the ground harder than it should have and sustained damage, SpaceX responded and took the notes very seriously.
At the end of October through November, SpaceX completed an unprecedented 12 consecutive and successful parachute drop tests, in a single week.
The team is continuing to improve the quality of their design, but they earned their spot to the next stage: the static fire test.
Find out more about the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 launch on this Countdown to Launch.
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SpaceX May Launch Crucial Crew Dragon Abort Test Next Month, Elon Musk Says
"A key safety test of SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut taxi could occur as early as next month, Elon Musk said.The test is an in-flight abort (IFA), which will demonstrate Crew Dragon's ability to get out of harm's way in the event of a launch emergency. During the IFA, a Crew Dragon will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Shortly after liftoff, the capsule will fire up its SuperDraco escape thrusters, which will blast Crew Dragon a considerable distance away from the rocket.SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon arrive at Cape Canaveral ahead of key test for crew flight"
"Now that the rocket and capsule are both at the Cape, the test shouldn’t be that far off. That’s great news for SpaceX, which is still targeting the end of this year for its first crewed demonstration flight for Crew Dragon — though even the company’s own leadership has indicated that’s an increasingly difficult target to hit, given where we are in the year."
UPDATE: IN-FLIGHT ABORT STATIC FIRE TEST ANOMALY INVESTIGATION
"It is worth noting that the reaction between titanium and NTO at high pressure was not expected. Titanium has been used safely over many decades and on many spacecraft from all around the world. Even so, the static fire test and anomaly provided a wealth of data. Lessons learned from the test – and others in our comprehensive test campaign – will lead to further improvements in the safety and reliability of SpaceX’s flight vehicles."