NASA okays March 2, 2019 Dragon test flight


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NASA has finally approved SpaceX’s unmanned test flight on March 2nd of its Dragon capsule.

They completed the last flight readiness review today, and the press conference revealing this decision is going on right now, at the link. They have noted one issue that came from the review today, relating to questions by the Russians about the software used by Dragon as it docks at ISS. It apparently they did not consider this a reason to delay the launch. They must think they can get it dealt with before the docking. (The manned Dragon docks itself directly with the station, rather than being berthed to the station by the robot arm, as is done with the unmanned cargo Dragon capsule.)

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One comment

  • Richard M

    Russian concerns are not facially *unreasonable*, but I am perplexed that they haven’t been resolved long before now. Docking is a pretty critical operation, after all. Effectively, this flight has been years in the planning, and required plenty of involvement by all ISS mission centers. Why is this still an issue now? Do the Russians still not understand, or is this just a pro forma muscle flexing, or a bit of both?

    For those curious, spaceships (like Soyuz) that dock with the station typically have a separate backup system that kicks in if the main computer system goes out of commission during approach. SpaceX, however, is using a single, fault-tolerant computer system, consisting of six distinct processors that “vote” on operations like these – SpaceX and NASA think this is more than enough redundancy to ensure the same level of safety.

    But it doesn’t seem like this is a show stopper, since the launch has been green-lighted. Finally.

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