SpaceX and NASA are getting closer to sending a manned spacecraft
On Thursday at the launch site 39A of the Outer Space Center. Kennedy at Cape Canaveral (the US Air Force base in Florida) conducted a test launch of the Falcon 9 rocket engines with the Crew Dragon spacecraft installed . It is this rocket that should send the crew to the International Space Station. Demonstration flight (as far as can be judged, without a team) will be held in February.
An unmanned test launch will take place on February 23, but in June of this year, if everything goes well, the astronaut team will head to the ISS. In any case, SpaceX representatives announced just such a schedule.
NASA helps in the work of both SpaceX and Boeing - both companies have contracts with the agency for delivering cargo to the ISS and astronauts. It is worth noting that in connection with the Shatdaun in the US, the agency works, in fact, for free.
Preparing for flight and astronauts. So, Robert Benken and Doug Hurley carefully work out all their actions with the spacecraft simulator Crew Dragon. The simulator was created by SpaceX, it is as close to real conditions as possible. Both astronauts previously flew into space on the "Shuttle".
And one more important point - both astronauts wear lightweight versions of spacesuits, which are created by SpaceX. They were first shown in August 2017. They will not be able to go into outer space, but such a spacesuit can protect against depressurization and other dangers. And the protection here from both low and high temperatures - for some time the spacesuit can protect its owner from open fire. Interestingly, the model of the spacesuit in question, developed on the basis of technology of the 1960s.
SpaceX has created a new spacesuit so that astronauts will not be too difficult to work inside the spacecraft. Such "clothes" are much more mobile than the usual space suit.
It is worth noting that if SpaceX succeeds, for the first time in several years, Americans will deliver their own astronauts on their own spacecraft. The last time it happened in 2011, when the space shuttle "Atlantis" went to space for the last time.
Currently, American astronauts fly to the ISS on the Russian space "transport workers." If SpaceX and Boeing do everything well, then from 2019 the United States will send people on its own ships. Falcon 9 is much less expensive to operate than any other rockets.
Boeing is also developing a spacecraft, but SpaceX is doing better. The company Ilona Mask works, as far as can be judged, more effectively.
By the way, despite the fact that the June flight (hopefully it will not be postponed) will be called "manned", the entire procedure for launching the ship, the flight and docking will occur automatically. SpaceX will perform the launch work in the same way as without people, but only with passengers in a capsule.
Earlier, SpaceX announced that the astronauts would be in a capsule when fueling the launch vehicle. Usually the team goes to their places after refueling, because it is quite a dangerous procedure. But after SpaceX has improved the process, it lobbies the technology of preparation, which was called Load-an-Go. This is necessary so that the super-cooled rocket fuel does not heat up.
For NASA, cooperation with SpaceX is beneficial because the agency saves a lot of money. Instead of developing space transport by itself, the organization has subcontracted this task.