The SpaceX’s first human-passengered, Crew Dragon capsule launch may come sooner than expected.
According to a tweet from Ars Technica’s Eric Berger, Crew Dragon may now take its first astronauts to space on May 7 if everything goes according to plan.
Static fire of Falcon 9 complete – targeting January 18 for an in-flight demonstration of Crew Dragon’s launch escape system, which will verify the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency during ascent
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 11, 2020
Berger also mentioned in his tweet the launching date of SpaceX’s Demo-2 is May 7. ‘Dragon is in good shape. Launch date is fluid and mission may move into late April, or push later into May depending on a number of variables not hardware related. No final decision yet on duration.’
News of the expected launch date follows up successes on a major test of the craft’s launch abort system last month in which SpaceX put Crew Dragon to the ultimate test.
During the test, the craft launched into high-altitude and the boosters were exploded while the capsule was aborted at high-velocity – the most stressful point of the launch.
NASA’s commercial crew program manager said at the time that the launch abort test was ‘our last open milestone’ before sending astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station.
The capsule has gone through ups and downs throughout the past several years. In April last year, an explosion engulfed the empty capsule in fire and smoke.
As SpaceX works to get its Crew Dragon operational the company is working to reach a similar milestone in a test of its other craft, Starship.
The company hopes to fly its Starship rocket 12 miles into the air and then land it back on the ground, upright.
The test, which the company filed a permit with the FCC for, could take place as soon as mid-March.
Once the capsule will be cleared for launching astronauts but also eventually clear the way for civilian space tourism.