SpaceX, Boeing continue progress toward flying NASA astronauts

Crew Dragon set for in-flight abort test on Jan. 18

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – The first rocket at Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A since last summer has a huge mission this month: the SpaceX Crew Dragon in-flight abort test.

SpaceX is preparing the Falcon 9 rocket for a static fire test ahead of the final milestone before NASA can give the all-clear for Crew Dragon spacecraft astronaut missions.

The Crew Dragon’s last hurdle before a crewed flight to the International Space Station will be a test of the spaceship’s emergency abort system, proving the ability to fly the spacecraft away from the rocket and safely splashdown in the ocean if something goes wrong mid-launch.

Crew Dragon’s engines will create up to 130,000 pounds of thrust in less than 10 seconds demonstrating the spaceship’s escape system under the most extreme forces during launch.

A Crew Dragon spacecraft flew to the space station and back without astronauts in March 2019.

That was also the goal for Boeing, NASA's other Commercial Crew partner.

However, last month Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft’s first test flight was cut short because of an issue with the spaceship’s internal timer.

After landing in New Mexico in December, Boeing said Thursday Starliner had returned to Kennedy Space Center.

The investigation into Starliner’s orbital flight test issue continues and is expected to take at least two months, NASA said earlier this week.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in-flight abort is now scheduled for no earlier than Saturday, Jan. 18. SpaceX has not confirmed a time.

According to the launch hazard warning issued by the 45th Space Wing, the test could happen between 6 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

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