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SpaceX launch news: Elon Musk's critical Dragon capsule test is pencilled in for next week | Science News


SpaceX will next reportedly week attempt a critical test of its Crew Dragon capsule. The reusable Crew Dragon is being designed to ferry cargo and eventually astronauts to the International Space Space (ISS). But SpaceX need to first prove it has resolved an issue that caused a test capsule to explode during a test in April.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon could one day carry up to seven passengers.

A initially successful Demo-1 test flight to the orbiting space station and back took place in March.

SpaceX then performed a "static fire" of the Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco engines, which would be used only in an emergency.

Static fire is a term in the space industry for a specific type of test, where a rocket engine is strapped down to the ground and fired up, to simulate the motor during flight and show it operates smoothly.

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Express.co.uk has contacted SpaceX to request for confirmation of the mooted test launch date.

Next week’s reported SpaceX Crew Dragon test will take place happen at the same site where the April anomaly occurred, Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1).

Like the previous test, a temporary test stand is being erected at LZ-1 for the capsule.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently hosted NASA head Jim Bridenstine at the reusable rocket company’s LA headquarters, as the Crew Dragon program is in its final stages of development.

Mr Musk noted that the primary mission for Demo-1 was a success, as the anomaly happened as SpaceX conducted additional testing looking to push the capsule’s boundaries.

He said at the time: "You're trying to find extreme corner cases of where things go wrong.

"You don't do tests because you think everything’s going to be fine, you do tests to find out what’s not going to be fine.

"I think there's a fundamental principle: Make sure you fail on the test stand so you do not fail in flight."

Mr Bridenstine has ordered SpaceX to deliver on the $ 2.6 billion (£ 2 billion) Commercial Crew contract the company received in 2014.

While the NASA chief said Crew Dragon "could be ready in the first quarter of next year," Mr Bridenstine also admitted the current timeline could change given the importance of the final tests.

Mr Bridenstine recently said: "What we're trying to do is get back to a day where we have realistic costs and schedules.

"Right now, the one program that we need the most credibility in the fastest is the Commercial Crew program. And SpaceX is a big part of that. "

If SpaceX’s Crew Dragon static fire test goes to plan, the pioneering space exploration company could be ready for its next milestone before the end of the year.

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