News ID: 239639
Published: 0504 GMT March 02, 2019

SpaceX rocket with unmanned US capsule blasts off for space station

SpaceX rocket with unmanned US capsule blasts off for space station
In this image released by NASA, a Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, ready for launch, sits on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the US, on March 1, 2019.

SpaceX’s 16-foot-tall (4.9-meter) Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. (0749 GMT), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley.

The capsule successfully separated from the rocket about 11 minutes later, sparking cheers in the control room, and began its journey to the International Space Station (ISS), Reuters reported.

The station’s three-member crew are expected to greet the capsule, carrying 400 pounds (181 kilograms) of supplies and test equipment, today just 27 hours after liftoff, according to NASA.

During its five-day stay, US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will run tests and inspect Crew Dragon’s cabin.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co. $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil for the first time since the US Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

Either SpaceX or Boeing will have bragging rights as the first private company to launch humans into space on its own rocket, although plans call for rockets built by both companies to carry astronauts into space.

The launch systems are aimed at ending US reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the $100 billion orbital research laboratory, which flies about 250 miles (402 kilometers) above Earth, at about $80 million per ticket.

While Saturday’s SpaceX test mission is a crucial step in the oft-delayed project, there are questions about whether NASA can achieve its 2019 flight goal of manned flight.

Reuters reported on February 21 that SpaceX and Boeing both must address significant design and safety concerns before they can fly humans.

Early on Friday, Musk, who is also the chief executive officer of electric carmaker Tesla Inc., tweeted a photo of the inside of Crew Dragon capsule with Ripley strapped inside.

SpaceX said the spacesuit for Ripley has been embedded with sensors around its head, neck and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.


Emergency instructions


On Friday, Vladimir Solovyev, the mission control flight director for Russia's mission to the ISS, gave instructions to the station commander, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, on actions during the planned docking of the Crew Dragon capsule to the station’s US segment.

"In case of an emergency, you, as the crew commander, have to ensure the safety of all the members in the Russian section or in Soyuz, depending on the graveness of the situation", Solovyev told Kononenko on Friday.

Solovyev recommended the cosmonaut to monitor the docking through an illuminator.

He added that US astronauts would also be monitoring the process from their section and would be ready to close off the station's hatches if they see an emergency is likely to happen during the docking.



Resource: Reuters
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