SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is less than two weeks from sending NASA astronauts to the ISS for the first time. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will enroll in this SpaceX mission, also known as Demo-2. They are set to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket on May 27, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The mission will be the first crewed liftoff from the US to orbit since NASA’s program ceased its activities back in 2011. But, while this mission milestone is approaching, Phil McAlister, the director of the commercial spaceflight at NASA Headquarters, stated: “There’s still work to be done!”
NASA and SpaceX’s Last Steps to a Flawless Space Mission
While Bob Behnken and Doug Harley are set to launch to space in 13 days and have already reached the needed preflight quarantine, engineers still need some final testing. Unfortunately, McAlister didn’t mention if the final steps include additional simulation training or testing with the vehicle itself.
One of the biggest challenges to surpass for the upcoming mission is the last flight readiness review (the FRR), which is now scheduled for May 21. Such a report, managed by NASA’s associate administrator, Doug Loverro, will determine if the spacecraft is ready for flight. The FRR will represent “one last time to say whether we are ready for flight,” explained McAlister. Before the report is done, however, NASA still has to check some documentation and establish some program control boards.
Both NASA and SpaceX will continue running the necessary precautions to avoid any health concerns related to the current pandemic. They will ensure that only staff who are under quarantine protocol will get to manage the procedures. These last steps are developed to guarantee the safety and the success of the team.
McAlister discussed the success of SpaceX’s testing leading up to the upcoming launch, saying: “This was a very, very challenging test, and I was very, very pleased.” Less than two weeks, and we’re going to witness how history is once again written for NASA, and SpaceX, as well.