Deton-8. Blastobox-3. Demo-1... One of these is the name of a SpaceX crew capsule test now due to launch in March | 2/21/2019 | Staff
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NASA this week set a date for the launch of the much-delayed Demo-1 – the first test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule that will, fingers crossed, eventually ferry humans to the International Space Station.

This comes as fears grow over the preparedness of the agency’s commercial partners for getting astronauts to the ISS.

Briefing - Wednesday - SpaceX - NASA - EST

In a briefing on Wednesday, SpaceX and NASA said they are aiming for a 0248 EST (0748 UTC) lift off on March 2 for the delayed mission. The non-crewed spacecraft will reach its preliminary orbit about 10 minutes after blast-off, and rendezvous with the International Space Station the following day, at 0555am EST (1055 UTC) after about 27 hours flight.

The capsule will then return to Earth on March 8, splashing down safely into the Atlantic ocean. Simple, right?

Reports - NASA - Aerospace - Safety - Advisory

Not quite, according to reports. NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel published findings [PDF] last month that would have made for difficult reading for bigwigs at SpaceX and Boeing – the latter is also preparing a crew capsule for the ISS.

The safety panel – which includes former astronauts – had a few concerns, including worries over the Composite Overwrap Pressure Vessel (COPV), which was redesigned after things went bang on a SpaceX resupply mission to the ISS back in 2015. In 2018, NASA pointed the finger at a duff design and the panel worries that the agency and SpaceX do not have a complete understanding of the hazards and margins involved in flying with new version.

Elon - Musk - SpaceX - Course - Point

Elon Musk's SpaceX could, of course, point out that the update has flown a good few times since and, er, NASA seemed a bit more gung-ho about sticking 'nauts back on Russian rockets after things blew up.

SpaceX's "load and go" procedure is also singled out by the panel, with more evaluation needed of the performance-boosting procedure. It...
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