Friday, March 1, 2019

NASA, Roscosmos Reach Consensus on Upcoming Crew Dragon Unmanned Flight to ISS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled out of the horizontal integration facility at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission, Feb. 28, 2019 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Demo-1 mission will be the first launch of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft and space system designed for humans as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The mission, currently targeted for a 2:49am launch on March 2, will serve as an end-to-end test of the system's capabilities Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA has received the concurrence of Russian space agency Roscosmos on the planned first unmanned test flight of the US Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS), Joel Montalbano, NASA’s deputy ISS Program manager, said, adding that the sides agreed on the protocol of the vehicle’s approach to the station.

"We agreed with Roscosmos yesterday on a protocol of the approach, actually, through discussions with them, explaining what steps SpaceX has taken in order to ensure the safety. They asked for some additional steps … where we would protect the space station, close another hatch or two, have the Soyuz, have the crew ready to go to the Soyuz. We agreed to do that", Montalbano told a press conference, broadcast by NASA’s YouTube channel, on Thursday.

Last week, the US agency announced its plans to send the capsule, designed by private aerospace contractor SpaceX, to the ISS.

NASA officials then said that their Russian colleagues had concerns related to the US agency’s lack of a backup computer system to prevent Crew Dragon from colliding with the ISS if the vehicle goes dead.

The flight control teams were to finalize the procedures later that day, Montalbano pointed out.

Crew Dragon, also known as Dragon 2, is a reusable spacecraft designed as a successor to the Dragon space freighter.

Its launch atop the Falcon 9 rocket for the unmanned test mission is scheduled for 2:49 am EST (07:49 GMT) on March 2. The spacecraft is expected to reach the ISS on March 3.


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