SpaceX Crewed Dragon: Pressing home the advantage

May 8, 2018 – 05:00 pm
With all three Commercial Crew partners providing a status update at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) this week, SpaceX have outlined their path towards launching a crew on their Dragon spacecraft in 2015. With the advantage of already flying cargo missions on a near-human rated Dragon, SpaceX are leading the drive to return domestic crew launch capability to the United States.

SpaceX Crewed Path:

This next flight (CRS-2/SpX-2) – scheduled to launch at 10:10am on March 1 from Cape Canaveral – will be carrying critical supplies to the orbital outpost, ahead of completing its mission by providing what is now the rare commodity of downmass capability for returning hardware and experiments.

Advanced screenshot of the failure via L2The mission is pending a final go-ahead from NASA, after SpaceX briefed the agency’s Mike Suffredini and William Gerstenmaier on what is now understood to be a confirmed root cause of the Engine 1 failure during Falcon 9’s previous launch with the CRS-1 (SpX-1) Dragon.

The first stage issue related one of the nine Merlin 1C engines, after – it is understood – the fuel dome above the nozzle ruptured. The engine did not explode, but did cause the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads to rupture and fall away from the vehicle due to the engine pressure release.

According to SpaceX’s Commercial Crew project manager, Garrett Reisman, some details into the root cause of the failure will be revealed to the public in the coming weeks.Part of the FPIP Chart - Via L2 However, due to the proprietary nature of SpaceX’s hardware, only SpaceX – and their customer, NASA – will ever get to see the full overview from the joint CRS-1 Post-Flight Investigation Board report.

The results are also likely to include details of the second issue, relating to the upper stage that failed a propellant mass check at SECO-1, resulting in its secondary payload passenger – an Orbcomm satellite – being left in an unworkable orbit, prior to deorbiting.

With the Dragon that is already flying being a vehicle that is partly crew-rated already, SpaceX are working a parallel process to their current campaigns to complete the drive that will fully enable their spacecraft to safely carry astronauts to the ISS.

This process is currently in the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCAP) stage, maturing from the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) process that has resulted in three companies earning NASA money to bring their spacecraft up to spec for NASA astronauts.

However, as reported by NASASpaceflight.com’s Pete Harding, it is unlikely that any NASA astronauts will get to ride on a commercial vehicle until late 2016 – as shown in ISS Flight Planning Integration Panel (FPIP) charts (available on L2) on the current plan for ISS crew rotations using what are tagged as USCVs (US Commercial Vehicles).

Fake Crew on Dragon Dragon using the SuperDracos SuperDraco being tested In Flight Abort Test

Source: www.nasaspaceflight.com

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