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SpaceX debuts capsule designed to bring humans into space – National



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX closes in on a new space capsule designed for astronauts.

The six-day test flight will be real in every respect, starting with the International Space Station. The astronauts will wear.

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NASA doesn't expect this crucial shakedown cruise to go perfectly. NASA astronaut strap into a Dragon as early as July.

Giant leaps are a series of consistent smaller steps. Retired astronaut Scott Kelly, NASA's former one-year space station resident, tweeted on Thursday.

NASA's eight-year drought of launching U.S. astronaut is U.S. rockets from U.S. soil. The Space Agency is a private taxi rides to reduce the price of a space station. NASA is providing $ 8 billion for SpaceX and Boeing to build and operate these new systems.

A look at the newest space ride:

Crew vs. Cargo

SpaceX has made 16 space station deliveries over the past seven years. The private company overhauled the cargo Dragon capsule to make it safe – and comfortable – for passengers. It 's slightly bigger – 27 feet (8 meters) tall – and also launches atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. But now there are four seats, computer touch screens and life-support systems. Instead of solar wings, solar cells are on the spacecraft itself. And eight engines are built into the capsule for use in an emergency; these abort engines could shoot the capsule off a malfunctioning rocket anytime during the launch.

SpaceX chic

You can go into space looking dowdy. SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk wants dragon riders looking sharp and 21st century, just like their new white sleek spaceship. The streamlined spaces are also white with black trim, with matching helmets and gloves. No bulky orange flight suits left over from NASA's space shuttle program. Boeing is going with Royal Blue spacesuits for its Starliner capsule crews.

Along for the ride

A life-size test dummy _ wearing SpaceX's slick new spacesuit is one of the capsule seats. The mannequin is rigged with sensors to see how it holds up. It is similar to Starman, which blasted off last year in the driver's seat of Musk's red Tesla convertible. The capsule can accommodate up to seven astronauts. For this test, it is carrying 450 pounds (200 kilograms) of supplies and gear.

Old pad, new look

Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Complex 39A, used a half-century ago by Apollo moon shots and later space shuttle flights, has been remodeled and gussied up by tenant SpaceX. Most notable is the long, enclosed, gleaming white walkway at the top. The old bridge for rocket-boarding astronaut was open to the elements. Astronauts like the new, air-conditioned design. They're very happy that it is covered, and we're trying to keep the mosquitoes out. Those Florida mosquitoes, they can get anywhere, ”said NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders.

Flight rundown

This is a nightmare. Saturday’s liftoff is scheduled for 2:49 am.m. to sync up with the next day. The Unlike Cargo Dragon, plucked from the orbit of the station, is an early Sunday morning. The three space station astronauts unload the dragon, and the fill it with science samples and old equipment. The capsule will undock March 8 and, shortly after sunrise, parachute into the Atlantic, a couple hundred miles off the Florida coast.

Hot competition

Just because SpaceX is first off the pad doesn 't mean it will launch astronauts before Boeing. SpaceX is shooting for a July crew launch, but that could be a slip of the spring. Several items _ parachutes and thrusters, among others _ still need work and possibly redesign before certified for human use. Boeing is targeting an April test of his Starliner capsule without crew, and a launch with three astronauts from earlier than August. Whichever company delivers astronauts first wins a small U.S. NASA's Doug Hurley and Boeing's Christopher Ferguson, who is the final shuttle mission. Hurley will ride the Dragon and Ferguson the Starliner.


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