SpaceX readies Crew Dragon capsule for next NASA launch

SpaceX recently confirms that its new Crew Dragon capsule has arrived in its processing facility located in Florida.

The new Crew Dragon capsule will be part of the next scheduled NASA launch later this year. The capsule will send the Crew-1 flight into the International Space Station. The capsule successfully made its trip from the SpaceX facility in California to Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday.

Preparation for the next launch

As part of the preparation for the next launch, the SpaceX first stage rocket has been in Florida since July. The upper stage of the rocket is still in the SpaceX facility located in Texas. According to SpaceX, the rocket is still undergoing routine tests.

SpaceX added that the second stage of the rocket uses the same single Merlin Vacuum engine. Once tests are completed, the company will ship the rocket to the facility in Florida.

The Crew-1 mission is part of the $2.6 billion contracts between NASA and SpaceX. It will utilize the Crew Dragon capsule to send a crewed mission into the International Space Station. According to the deal, the capsule will send four astronauts into the space station.

The upcoming launch will be the second mission for SpaceX. This follows the successful Demo-2 test flight, which sent two astronauts into the space station in May. After two months of stay in space, SpaceX successfully returned the two astronauts back into Earth earlier this month.

SpaceX learned a lot of valuable things during its initial test flight. Considering the upgrades made to the Crew Dragon, it should be able to last up to six months in space.

SpaceX and NASA are planning to launch the mission on October 23, given that no hurdles will come up. The mission was originally slated for a launch in late September. However, the team asked for extra time for testing, as well as complying with the necessary certifications.

The competition

Aside from SpaceX, NASA also has a contract with Boeing for building a different capsule. The Boeing capsule, called CST-100 Starliner, has yet to successfully launch a single mission. The capsule needs to pass an unmanned test flight before allowing astronauts into it.

In December 2019, Boeing successfully launched a Starliner into space, but a glitch prevented it from completing the mission. A glitch on the onboard timing system, it failed to reach the necessary orbit to dock into the space station.

If successful, the upcoming Crew Dragon launch will be another monumental feat under SpaceX’s belt.

Image courtesy of Bill Jelen/Unsplash

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