SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule for next NASA astronaut launch arrives in Florida

SpaceX is forging ahead with preparations for its next NASA astronaut mission, currently slated for a late October launch.

The Crew Dragon capsule that will launch the Crew-1 flight to the International Space Station arrived in Florida on Tuesday (Aug. 18), NASA officials said in an update Friday (Aug. 21).

The spacecraft made the trip from SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and is now being processed at company facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Crew-1 will lift off from NASA’s nearby Kennedy Space Center no earlier than Oct. 23 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The first stage of that rocket has been in Florida since July. The upper stage is at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, where it performed a “static fire” test on Tuesday, NASA officials said. (Static fires are routine trials in which a rocket fires up while remaining tethered to the ground.)

Crew-1 is the first operational crewed mission that SpaceX will fly to the station for NASA under a $2.6 billion contract that Elon Musk’s company signed with the agency in 2014. The flight will carry four astronauts: NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japanese spaceflyer Soichi Noguchi.

SpaceX already has one crewed mission under its belt — the recent Demo-2 test flight, which sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the orbiting lab for a two-month stay. Crew-1 will last about six months, the usual stint for astronauts on the station.

Like SpaceX, Boeing holds a commercial crew contract with NASA, which the aerospace giant will fulfill using a capsule called CST-100 Starliner. Starliner is not yet ready to fly astronauts; the spacecraft must first ace an uncrewed test flight to the station, a mission scheduled to take place later this year. 

Starliner tried this test flight once before, in December 2019, but suffered a glitch in its onboard timing system and got stranded in an orbit too low to allow a meetup with the station.


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