The US space agency NASA has given the green light for the first test flight of a new space capsule of the private company SpaceX for manned missions. As NASA announced yesterday, the space capsule „Crew Dragon“ will launch on Saturday to the International Space Station (ISS) – but still without astronauts on board. Only one life-size doll will be on the test flight.
However, NASA wants to bring astronauts into space with a SpaceX missile for the first time this year. SpaceX has already several times sent its space capsule „Dragon“ to the ISS, but so far only with material. Expected to be in July, astronauts aboard a „Crew Dragon“ capsule, which is transported by a Falcon 9 rocket into space. Two astronauts are to participate in the mission to the ISS.
Replacement for Space Shuttle
The test flight with a Falcon 9 rocket is now planned for March 2, according to NASA. On March 3, the capsule is to dock at the ISS and return to Earth on March 8. „We’re ready for take-off, we’re ready for docking,“ said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s manned space flight officer, at a press conference at the US Cape Canaveral spaceport in Florida.
The US space shuttle program was discontinued in 2011. Since then, US astronauts have only been able to reach the ISS with Russian Soyuz rockets. The contract with Russia expires in November. Then SpaceX and Boeing will take over.