First unmanned test flight of manned Dragon now set for Feb 9


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Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s first unmanned test launch of its manned Dragon capsule, delayed repeated in recent months, has now been scheduled for no early than Feb 9, with its dress rehearsal countdown static fire test set for January 23.

It appears that this scheduled date is more firm than the previous ones, as it was announced as part of the upcoming schedule of the Eastern Range’s planning schedule.

The article provides some interesting details about the effect (or non-effect) the government shutdown on this launch. Bottom line: It should not prevent it, in the slightest. It must be repeatedly noted that the launch will use a SpaceX launch team on a SpaceX run launchpad, and will only require NASA participation during docking procedures, procedures that require NASA employees who have been deemed essential and thus are working (even if unpaid at the moment).

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12 comments

  • David

    I had heard previously, reported second hand from conversation with personnel at the cape, that while the people that this mission will rely on directly are on the “essential” list, they in turn usually rely on other people to do their jobs that aren’t on the list. So these people’s workload has expanded as they are attempting to not only do their usual job, but stuff that normally would have been done for them by other people.

    I’d also heard that a lot of general support functions around the cape, simple things such as putting up barriers and directing traffic as they close areas for testing are done by people that are not working. Presumably those kinds of jobs are easily shifted onto other people, but it must slow things down.

    Of course I’d also heard from some of these same sources that critical people for the operation of the range were gone, but that’s clearly not the case as there have been launches during the shutdown.

  • Kirk

    NSF’s Chris Bergin reported earlier today that while they might be seeing the static fire this week, “the launch date is still fluid. Now about a week later – second half of February – per ISS planning” and that the Russians say they have been told it is NET 16 Feb. See: https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1087349123114770433 (and subsequent tweet).

  • Richard M

    “It must be repeatedly noted that the launch will use a SpaceX launch team on a SpaceX run launchpad, and will only require NASA participation during docking procedures.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I have read that Boeing will be ceding a larger mission control role to NASA for Starliner flights?

  • Kirk

    The DM1 stack — including the Crew Dragon — are vertical at 39A in advance of static fire as soon as tomorrow. Ever since the compete loss of Amos-6 during Falcon 9 fueling for its static fire back in September 2016, they have conducted static fires without payload. I would assume that this capsule’s abort system will be operational during the test.

    https://twitter.com/SpaceflightNow/status/1087715914907377664

  • Michael

    Well, I got the answer to my question. They look to do the static fire with the Dragon mounted.

  • Sayomara

    Kirk,

    I thought they had the full stack for the Falcon Heavy static fire test. Might just be a function of this being in the test firing, they would like to get as close to launch conditions as they can without launching.

  • Kirk

    Sayomara, you are right about the FH static fire. Thanks!

    And yes, it does make sense to test capsule systems (abort arming, etc.) at the same time.

  • Kirk

    Static fire has been delayed until tomorrow. No problems with Falcon 9 or Dragon.

  • Kirk

    Static fire conducted today at 16:00 EST, but Bill Harwood says, “sources indicate the firing did not run full duration, but no word yet from SpaceX.”

  • Kirk

    No hint of a problem from SpaceX, with them saying: “Static fire test complete—targeting February launch from historic Launch Complex 39A for Crew Dragon’s first demonstration flight!” https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1088633393149968384

    Bill Harwood is also reporting that NASA’s internal target date for the DM1 launch is Feb 23.

  • Kirk

    DM1 flight is now NET 2 March per this FCC license application submitted yesterday: https://fcc.report/ELS/Space-Exploration-Technologies-Corp/0068-EX-ST-2019

  • Kirk

    As pointed out elsewhere, their previous license was valid through 1 March, so they may just be covering their bases here while still planning on launching under the authority of their previous license. Though NET March was being reported by multiple sources prior to this license application.

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