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article imageSpaceX’s Crew Dragon in-flight abort test gets launch date

By Karen Graham     Dec 9, 2019 in Technology
On Friday, December 6th, a NASA Commercial Crew Program blog post confirmed a NET date of Saturday, January 4th, 2020 for the SpaceX Crew Dragon in-flight abort test (IFA), a critical final test before a crewed mission to the International Space Station.
The January 4 launch date falls just short of SpaceX’s December goal for the IFA, however, SpaceX will be busy through the end of this year, with two more missions to end 2019.
In addition to the resupply mission to the ISS this week, SpaceX will support the launch of 60 more Starlink satellites and the launch of the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite for customers SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. of Japan and Kacific Broadband Satellites of Singapore.
Assuming that a successful IFA mission test is satisfactory, there will be a series of parachute drop tests, and if they are also successful, the SpaceX Crew Dragon can look forward to its final exam as soon as February, when NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly to the International Space Station, according to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer.
A crew access arm reaches toward SpaceX s first Crew Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket on L...
A crew access arm reaches toward SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Jan. 3, 2019 ahead of an uncrewed test flight.
"As a part of the critical IFA test, SpaceX engineers will configure the Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon's capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency," NASA officials said in the statement.
"The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX's crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station."
The In-Flight Abort Test follows a series of static fire engine tests of the spacecraft conducted Nov. 13 near SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX and Boeing were awarded multi-million dollar contracts in 2014 to fly astronauts to the space station for NASA after the agency retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011. Boeing has developed the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for launches on Atlas V rockets.
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