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NASA, SpaceX to launch test flight on January 7, ahead of historic crewed flight

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States is planning to send humans to space for the first time in eight years, in a historic flight through SpaceX Crew Dragon. The SpaceX will send its Crew Dragon capsule on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station on January 7.

Nov 24, 2018 12:12 IST
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States is planning to send humans to space for the first time in eight years, in a historic flight through SpaceX Crew Dragon.

Prior to the historic launch, as a part of the preparation, the space agency will shoot out a test flight on January 7, 2019. The announcement comes as the race between Boeing and SpaceX to launch their first crewed space missions is heating up.

Key Highlights

NASA has announced an updated schedule for the two companies on the road to sending astronauts to space from American soil.

The SpaceX will send its Crew Dragon capsule on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station on January 7.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon can seat three astronauts, but will be unpiloted for its first test flight, which will be launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

This flight will be known as Demo-1 (or DM-1). It will undergo an in-flight abort test sometime before its first crewed flight in June.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first two astronauts to test the commercial spaceflight.

Significance

The flight aims to provide NASA with performance data from the SpaceX spacecraft and also help the agency certify if transportation system is ready for taking astronauts between the Earth and the International Space Station. 

Background

Boeing's first uncrewed test flight is currently scheduled for March 2019, almost two months behind SpaceX.

Both companies have to complete abort tests before their first crewed tests, which will happen in June for SpaceX and August for Boeing.

In August 2018, NASA announced the astronauts who will be flying in these missions, which would see the United States send people to space in American spacecraft again, after the agency grounded its fleet in 2011.

Since 2011, Russia's Soyuz spacecraft was being used by the astronauts to travel to and from the Earth to the International space station.

NASA now expects the first operational mission with commercial crew to take place in August 2019, with a second to follow in December.

Those dates could change depending on the results of test flights, but it appears that that the world is close to seeing an actual commercial spacecraft ferrying real passengers out of this world.

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