SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule perched on pad ahead of first orbital flight

SpaceX Crew Dragon Cape Canaveral January 2019

SpaceX Crew Dragon Cape Canaveral January 2019

At present, NASA relies on Russian Federation to get US astronauts to and from the International Space Station, but it's not an ideal scenario.

If all goes to plan, SpaceX will follow Demo-1 flight with unmanned abort tests to demonstrate how it can handle a launch emergency on the pad or in early flight.

The launch date could possibly be pushed back to February due to the partial government shutdown that has affected NASA.

Indeed, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk hinted that the Crew Dragon test flight, called Demo-1, could fly later than that January 17 target. The agreement in place with Russian Federation will allow NASA to send crew on Soyuz flights in 2019, but the sooner SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner spacecrafts are ready for prime time, the better.

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Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon get ready for a test flight.

New SpaceX photos show the first Crew Dragon attached to its rocket in their hangar at Launch Pad 39A, as well as rolling out to the pad, standing upright in launch position and sitting within reach of the company's sleek white and black crew access arm. They have been flying between Earth and the ISS since 2010 and shuttling cargo to the ISS since 2012.

Under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA and industry partners prepare for the next generation of American spacecraft that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station from here, the Space Coast of Florida. The other company, Boeing has a crewed spaceship called the CST-100 Starliner.

SpaceX shared a particularly gorgeous shot of the Falcon 9 against a backdrop of rosy clouds. NASA requires that the company perform numerous test flights, including crewed test flights, before it will pack astronauts into the ship for official missions. It will use parachutes to splash down in the ocean, also like the uncrewed Dragon.

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