NASA announces date maiden flight of Crew Dragon

NASA recently announced that an unmanned test of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the ISS will take place on 7 January 2019. The Boeing Starliner will have a similar test sometime in March.

If all goes well, The first manned flight of Crew Dragon will be sometime in June with the Starliner doing so in August.

But there are no guarantees. Both vessels do have issues. With the Crew Dragon, there are parachute issues and, more importantly, concerns about the high pressure helium tank. Remember the tank failure on 1 September 2016 that took out the Falcon 9 and the entire launch pad?

Personally, I am concerned about SpaceX’s procedure in which the crew is boarded BEFORE the Falcon 9 is fueled. The crew has to sit atop the rocket while fueling takes place. I know SpaceX fuels at the last minute because they use super-cooled propellants for added power. But I have to ask, is a little extra efficiency more desirable than a reduced risk to human life? For purely cargo or satellite launches, go for it. But when lives are at stake?

I like what SpaceX has accomplished. They are definitely daring. But then again, there is a fine line between between being daring and being cocky. Cocky can get you killed.

 

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