‘We are a go’: SpaceX just cleared 2 huge hurdles toward its first rocket launch of NASA astronauts into space next week

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SpaceX is preparing to launch its first people into orbit on Wednesday using a new Crew Dragon spaceship.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will pilot the commercial mission, called Demo-2.
But the rocket company, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, first needed to test-fire its rocket and get permission from NASA and even other countries before attempting the launch.
On Friday, SpaceX checked off both boxes, leaving one final pre-launch review on Monday before the mission can leave Earth. 

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SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk in 2002, is steamrolling toward its first-ever rocket launch of people into orbit.

The NASA-funded commercial mission is called Demo-2 and will fly two passengers: seasoned NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

If all goes according to plan, the team will lift off inside the company’s new Crew Dragon spaceship at 4:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday, in effect resurrecting human spaceflight from America after nearly a decade of dormancy. If the weather or other conditions don’t cooperate, SpaceX’s next chance to launch Demo-2 will be Saturday, May 30, at a similar time.

But before Demo-2’s launch can happen, SpaceX needs to clear a number of final safety hurdles, and the company on Friday passed two of those penultimate steps.

“We are now preparing for a launch in five short days,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a televised press briefing on Friday, later adding: “We are a go.”

Musk: It’s taken ‘probably 10,000 meetings’ and tests to get here

The first milestone SpaceX achieved was a flight readiness review. Such pre-launch meetings are typically long, as stakeholders comb for any final issues and think of ways to reduce risk. When people are on the line, though, such reviews become even more painstakingly detailed.

Behnken and Hurley’s mission has them docking to the International Space Station and living with a crew of three other people for up to 110 days, too. So Russia, Japan, and other member-states of the orbital outpost got a say in the decision to launch Demo-2 as well.

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“Everybody in the room was very clear that now is the time to speak up if there are any challenges. And there were,” Bridenstine said.

One apparently had to do with final discussions of an issue raised by members of Roscosmos. (The Russian space agency not only co-runs the space station with NASA, but also is — for now — the only way astronauts can reach the space station.)

Kirk Shireman, who manages the space station program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said Roscosmos in 2019 made SpaceX aware of a “very, very remote possibility of a failure” with the Crew Dragon that might cause “catastrophic damage” when docking to the ISS.

“SpaceX said we understand, and we’ll make a modification,” Shireman added, noting the unspecified issue was resolved to Russia’s satisfaction with the new Crew Dragon ship for Demo-2.

The meeting lasted nearly two workdays, but SpaceX came out the other end with permission.

The second major hurdle that …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Tech

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