NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX collaborate to finalize launch day operations for the planned April 2019 test flight of a company-built spaceship built to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
Both parties agreed on a proposal to fuel a Falcon 9 rocket after ensuring astronauts are already inside the Crew Dragon module and set for crewed mission, NASA said Saturday.
“To make this decision, our teams conducted an extensive review of the SpaceX ground operations, launch vehicle design, escape systems and operational history,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“Safety for our personnel was the driver for this analysis and the team’s assessment was that this plan presents the least risk,” Lueders added.
The agreement and data from Falcon 9 Block 5 crew loading demonstrations are contingent upon the agency’s final certification of the Demo-2 operational plan.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly on Dragon for next year’s test flight.
The company plans to load the rocket’s composite overwrap pressure vessels with helium and ensure the configuration stability of the launch vehicle before the arrival of both astronauts at the launch site.
NASA expects assigned crews to enter the spacecraft two hours before the liftoff schedule and activate the launch escape systems 38 minutes prior to launch.
SpaceX will aim to supply the rocket with kerosene and densified liquid oxygen shortly after LES activation.