SpaceX rolls manned Dragon/Falcon 9 to launchpad

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Capitalism in space: This week SpaceX rolled to the launchpad the stacked manned Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket that will fly the first unmanned test flight no early than January 17, 2019.

it is understood that the rollout is a dry simulation and thus will not include any propellant. However, a static fire test including propellant load and a short burn of the first stage’s nine Merlin engines will occur at a later date.

While this week’s rollout and subsequent fit checks do not seem to have been impacted by the ongoing U.S. government shutdown, other aspects of the launch campaign will be delayed.

The launch is expected to slip past the latest official no-earlier than launch date of January 17th. Many aspects of the launch campaign require NASA oversight and thus cannot proceed without NASA’s approval. It is understood that each additional day of the government shutdown translates into about a one day delay with the launch.

The irony here is that there are really no NASA employees required for SpaceX to do the launch. It is occurring on their leased property using their equipment and their launch team. Only when the capsule arrives at ISS will NASA employees be required, and those slots have been deemed “essential” in this government shutdown and are still operating on ISS and at mission control in Houston.

If Trump ordered it, this flight could happen. SpaceX is clearly ready. It is only NASA and its bureaucracy that stands in the way.



  • Michael

    I am kind of curious as the whether or not the Dragon will be present during the FRF. I know they have a policy of not having the payload present since Amos but it would serve as a final all up check of the system.

    Besides, if anything bad happens Dragon will just be a dust catcher for the indefinite future.

  • C Cecil

    Anyone know when the launch abort test is to happen? I thought the crew capsule was to be affixed to a first stage with only two engines and demonstrate its ability to pull away from a life threatening event.

  • C Cecil: It appears you did not read the story I linked to. It explains that they must first complete the unmanned test flight to ISS, and recover the capsule, which they will then refurbish and use in the launch abort test. The timing of that is thus dependent on when this first flight happens, and how long it takes to get the capsule ready after it water splashdown.

  • Edward

    Speaking of SpaceX, here is Scott Manley discussing mostly the Starship test in Texas and a little about the manned Dragon that is now on the pad. (10 minutes)

  • pzatchok

    A curious question.

    if you put just the dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 with extra fuel could the first stage them be used as a passenger transport to land someplace else on the planet?

    Could the falcon9+/Dragon make a full orbit or more and land?

  • wayne

    Pink Floyd –
    “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”
    (synced with Mars Direct animation)

  • Kirk

    Here is a SpaceX tweet with photos of DM1 vertical at LC-39A. Musk retweeted it, adding “About a month away from the first orbital test flight of crew Dragon“.

  • Kirk

    From NASA’s Commercial Crew Program blog:
    (Includes a great photo of the stack.)

    SpaceX Demo-1 Launch Update (Anna Heiney, January 10, 2019):

    NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.

  • Kirk: The vagueness here is most disturbing. SpaceX is clearly ready to launch. NASA is clearly acting to stop them.

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