The BL news-SpaceX ready for manned flight


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The BL News—SpaceX ready for manned flight

NASA and SpaceX plan first test flight on Saturday, March 2 of the new commercial Dragon capsule designed for a human crew. No one will be aboard Saturdays flight– only an instrumented dummy in a white SpaceX spacesuit – but the capsule will still fly to the International Space Station, following its liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Officials gave the green light after conducting a safety review last week.

NASA's head of human exploration and operations, William Gerstenmaier, called the upcoming test flight "an absolutely critical first step" to eventually putting astronauts on board.

The capsule will remain at the orbiting lab just under a week before aiming for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. 

Radiation monitors and supplies are going up, and science samples and used equipment are coming down.

If the upcoming demo goes well, two NASA astronauts could strap in for the next test flight this summer.

Officials stressed much work remains to be done, with problems possibly solved through a redesign, before the capsule is qualified to carry humans.

It would be the first launch of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in eight years since NASA's shuttle program ended.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to soar at 2:48 a.m. EST on March 2 is brand new. 

Boeing is also in the commercial race to transport space station astronauts. 

Its first Starliner demo is targeted for April, and the second, with astronauts, no earlier than August.

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