For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that will very likely launch on its first launch with a crew of two NASA astronauts on the Demo-2 mission sometime this spring from American soil has arrived at the launch site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“NASA and SpaceX are preparing for the company’s first flight test with astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program,” NASA said in a statement released today Friday, Feb 14.
The Demo-2 Crew Dragon was shipped from the SpaceX manufacturing factory in Hawthorne, California and arrive at the Florida Spoace Coast on Thursday Feb. 13.
Barring unforeseen issues the Demo-2 mission will launch in the second quarter of 2020 and potentially as soon as May – thereby restoring America’s human spaceflight capabilities with the first launch of US astronauts from US soil on a US rocket since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttles in July 2011.
Furthermore Crew Dragon is almost certainly poised to restore US human spaceflight before the competing Starliner crew spaceship from competitor Boeing.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from historic Launch Complex 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“Crew Dragon in Florida ahead of its flight to and from the @space_station with @NASA astronauts @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug onboard!” SpaceX tweeted.
Crew Dragon in Florida ahead of its flight to and from the @space_station with @NASA astronauts @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug onboard! pic.twitter.com/nerz0Qujso
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 14, 2020
Hurley was the pilot on the last manned spaceflight mission flown from the US – namely the STS-135 mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis that lifted off on July 7, 2011 from historic Launch Complex 39A – the same pad from which Demo-2 will blastoff.
The date of May 7 has been announced by some as a potential launch date for Demo-2 – but that remains unconfirmed at this time.
The Demo-2 spacecraft is now undergoing final testing and prelaunch processing in a SpaceX facility on nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, says NASA.
Watch this video of the SpaceX Crew Dragon for Demo-2 as it underwent electromagnetic interference testing in the EMI chamber in Hawthorne prior to its arrival at the launch site in Florida.
Video Caption: Crew Dragon in EMI Chamber. Credit: SpaceX
Both Crew Dragon and Starliner were developed with funding under the auspices of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“SpaceX employees with Crew Dragon before it departed our Hawthorne factory for the launch site in Florida – one step closer to returning human spaceflight capabilities to the United States!” SpaceX tweeted.
SpaceX employees with Crew Dragon before it departed our Hawthorne factory for the launch site in Florida – one step closer to returning human spaceflight capabilities to the United States! pic.twitter.com/ekaVJf9HDt
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 12, 2020
But Boeing botched their critical uncrewed Orbital Test Flight (OFT) mission in December that failed to dock at the ISS after launch due to a significant timing error in the elapsed timing controller.
Last week Boeing and NASA also revealed that Starliner service module could have collided with the crew module during separation on return to Earth- due to software failures only discovered at the last moment. See my Fox 35 interview comments below
The path to blastoff of Demo-2 was paved following the success In Flight Abort (IFA) test in January.
Last month on Jan 19, the NASA, SpaceX team successfully launched the Crew Dragon vehicle on the In Flight Abort (IFA) demonstration test that’s counts as its final major flight test before it begins carrying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
The Falcon 9 rocket was failed on purpose to prove that the launch escape system on the Crew Dragon capsule -that would normally seat astronauts – would fire its emergency abort thrusters to push the spacecraft away from a catastrophic rocket failure in a split second and successfully save the astronauts lives and accomplish a parachute assisted splashdown safely in the ocean.
My IFA post test launch commentary on WFTV ABC TV News Orlando:
Watch my commentary at FOX 35 Orlando TV News about significant problems on recent uncrewed #OFT test flight delaying astronauts flights of The Boeing Company #Starliner – on Feb 10 & 11 news broadcasts.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of upcoming and ULA and SpaceX launches including Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort and Starlink at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Feb 14-16: 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “ULA Solar Orbiter Feb 9. SpaceX In Flight Abort and Starlink launches.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale