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SpaceX Space Dragon May Launch Astronauts at the End of July, says Russian source



A source familiar with the Russian aerospace industry recently informed the state newspaper RIA Novosti that NASA has provided the Russian space agency Roscosmos with an updated schedule for ISS operations planning, including a preliminary target for the first crew launch SpaceX with astronauts.

According to the RIA source, NASA has informed Roscosmos that the agency has planned plans to launch the SpaceX (DM-2) demonstration mission 2 on July 25 as the spacecraft leaves the ISS by re-entering the atmosphere and safely returning astronauts Bob Benken and Doug Hurley on Earth on August 5th. In a strange turn of events, the Russian news agency TASS published a separate article just 1

2 hours later, in which – once again – an anonymous source of space agency said that "the launch of [DM-2] Crew Dragon is likely to be postponed to November "This is especially strange because RIA Novosti published an almost identical article 12 hours earlier, except for the" source of the space industry, "that the latest NASA schedule shows DM- 2 launch NET 25 July ¯_ (ツ) _ / ¯https: //t.co/WncXbt2B1E

– Air Although it is difficult not to go to conclusions about the strangeness of two completely contradictory reports arising from similar sources in similar articles in only half a day, except that it is it is equally likely that the almost simultaneous publication of both TASC and RIA stories is mostly accidental.At the same time, truth can be found in both comments made by the anonymous source (s) while they also offer something like the most the worst case scenario and the worst case scenario for the first man launched by the crew cally vessel SpaceX & # 39; s Crew Dragon.

The RIA launched the March 22 series with brief news containing a substantial quote from the aforementioned source of the space industry.

"The American side informed the Russian side that the release of [first crewed launch of] Dragon-2 … to the ISS … is scheduled for July 25th. Docking with the station is scheduled [to occur around one day later]. Separation from the ISS and the return of the Earth is expected on August 5, said the source of the agency.

In a slightly different way, NASA informed Roscosmos that it had begun to plan SpaceX's DM-2 not earlier than (NET) at the end of July, similar to NASA and SpaceX publicly announced that the debut the Crew Dragon's crew DM-1 was scheduled on January 17th in early December 2018. 2nd, a delay of about six weeks. The reason (s) behind the discrepancy between NASA's first serious planning date and actual commissioning remains unknown, but it's safe to say that things took much longer than expected, even after the crew Dragon and Falcon 9 were technical "Set off" for the launch. 19659002] Although NASA and SpaceX already have the luxury of a huge data cache and the practical experience gained from the first and almost impeccable orbital launch of the dragon crew and crew of the ISS, Crew Dragon's DM-2 mission remains quite different animal. In addition to requiring a number of significant hardware changes and the introduction of visceral pressures on real life, the DM-2 will be the first major for NASA after spending most of its eight years without being able to release its own astronauts in orbit .

No Competition

Meanwhile, Boeing Space Starliner – a Dragon crew companion within NASA's commercial program – suffers a number of failures in 2019, which allegedly debuted on the car from April to August, with a delay with at least four months. As a result, nothing less than severe anomalies during the preparation of crew hardware and / or NASA's DM-1 and DM-2 flight readiness can prevent SpaceX from becoming the first commercial organization to build, launch and operate a crewed spacecraft in the history of space flights.

The crew of the spacecraft crew of SpaceX Dragon DM-2 in December 2018 (NASA)
The first truly crewed Crew Dragon was seen here in the late stages of the assembly of the Haxthorne factory at SpaceX, Aug. 13. (Pauline Acalin)

According to the December 2018 update provided during the quarterly meetings of the NASA Consultative Board, the entire production and integration of Crew Dragon DM-2 can now be completed, with the capsule eventually targeting SpaceX's payload facilities later this week. However, the NAC dates for December 2018 are not due to the DM-1 delays that followed soon, possibly affecting the completion of DM-2 integration and tampon delivery to ensure that all potential anomalies experienced during the Crew Dragon test flight may be resolved in Hawthorne, CA.

According to NASA and SpaceX, the DM-2 crew dragon will have to be equipped with thermoregulating hardware to prevent the Draco plumbing system from freezing under several specific orbital conditions, as well as potential changes to the parachute system on the ship and installing four windows instead of two. SpaceX will also need to install the first orbital display and control hardware on Crew Dragon. Finally, SpaceX has chosen to conduct a Flight Disruption Test (IFA) on the Crew Dragon to see if the spacecraft can carry the astronaut safely from the moment it is launched to an orbital insertion, which must be successfully completed and reviewed by NASA before the agency allows SpaceX to continue with DM-2.

The dragon crew arrives at the ISS, the nose is open. (NASA)

All of the above-mentioned tasks – including major crew reviews during its DM-1 debut – must be completed before SpaceX is allowed to release astronauts to the ISS, all of which essentially add some level of uncertainty over the practical schedule for launching DM-2. If all reviews and modifications continue to be flawless, including a perfect in-flight disruption test as early as the end of June, SpaceX and NASA may be ready to release the Crew Dragon once again by the end of July.

It is extremely unlikely that everything is going as perfect as it can be seen in the download process required for NASA and SpaceX to get ready for a DM-1 flight. If there are significant challenges in the next few months for review and work, it's not unlikely that the launch of DM-2 will reach Q4 2019 or Q1 2020. Splitting the difference would be safest to bet that the Crew Dragon will fly out with astronauts board not earlier than August or September. Nevertheless, many of the exciting events will soon be available for SpaceX's first space flight program. Stay tuned as SpaceX prepares to deliver the second flight Crew Dragon to Florida.

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