Despite Crew Dragon Delays, SpaceX Astronauts Continue Training

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Crew Dragon Delays Make Getting Off of Russian Dependence on Time “Increasingly Difficult”

In 2011, NASA retired the Space Shuttle program in favor of developing commercial partnerships to get American astronauts to and from space. Since then, all American astronauts traveling to the ISS have gone aboard Russian rockets—at $81 million per launch. NASA contracted with both SpaceX and Boeing to provide them with capsules to carry humans to space. However, SpaceX Crew Dragon delays have pushed that vision back considerably, and now the contract with the Russians is about to expire.

Watch: Crew Dragon Succeeds with Demo-1

In the successful Demo-1 tests shown above, the Crew Dragon capsule performed admirably. The capsule carried about 400 pounds of cargo up to the ISS. Part of that cargo could have come straight out of an episode of Mythbusters. A dummy called Buster “Ripley” (Alien nod?) with all kinds of sensors survived the trip up and back.

However, Crew Dragon faced a big problem in July when a faulty valve leaked propellant into areas it shouldn’t be. The result was a big explosion and even bigger headaches for everyone at SpaceX and NASA who are trying to get this thing off of the ground. 

Read More: SpaceX Crew Dragon Gets Major Design Change Due to Failure

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule falls to the ocean under parachutes.

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule falls to the ocean under parachutes.

SpaceX originally targeted the Demo-2 test for this month. That test will be the last milestone before a manned launch can take place. Earlier this year the timeline had Demo 2 launching in July and the manned launch happening in September. The last failure, however, uncovered a very serious design flaw in what was supposed to be one of Crew Dragon’s best features. Engineers designed Crew Dragon to have the capability to “soft land” using propulsion engines.

Because of that faulty valve, however, and the mounting pressure of deadlines, SpaceX has chosen a workaround that will make that impossible.  Instead, SpaceX astronauts aboard the first Crew Dragon returning to Earth will most likely do so under parachutes. Just like in the Apollo days. 

Now Crew Dragon’s launch schedule is looking exceptionally cloudy. While SpaceX, of course, is being vague, they’re still trying to keep some optimism.  VP of build and flight reliability, Hans Koenigsmann said: “by the end of this year, I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s getting increasingly difficult,” in July.

Meanwhile, SpaceX Astronauts Continue to Train and Wait, Despite Crew Dragon Delays.

At SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley took part in a training event recently. NASA announced the event in a blog post on Thursday Behnken and Hurley essentially went through a dress rehearsal for the actual launch. The pair went through all of the procedures they will go through on launch day.

Robert Behnken getting ready to launch

Robert Behnken getting ready to launch

In his 19-year career as an astronaut, Behnken, a former Air Force colonel from Missouri, has logged over seven hundred hours in space. If that weren’t enough, nearly forty hours of that was spent on spacewalk missions.

Douglas Hurley in his new spacesuit

Douglas Hurley in his new spacesuit

Hurley was a Marine Corps fighter pilot. He’s from New York and has also been an astronaut since 2000. He piloted the STS-127 and STS-135 missions.

Despite the Crew Dragon delays, Behnken and Hurley are anxious to get off the ground. Here’s hoping these brave dudes get off the ground safely and soon!


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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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