The Race to Get SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Off the Ground


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The Race to Get SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Off the Ground

The Race to Get SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Off the Ground

In 2014, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was given $2.6 billion as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew contract—a deal that would help NASA garner its independence from Russia and re-establish the United States as a contender in crewed spaceflight. But since then, there have been some delays, financially and technically, that have prevented the SpaceX team from getting the Crew Dragon capsule ready for launch. SpaceX did have a successful unmanned demonstration mission, Demo-1, in March 2019 showing off the capsule’s capabilities to go to the International Space Station (ISS) and back. Though the SpaceX team notoriously lost that first Crew Dragon (Demo-1) in a following static fire test in April, but since then, the team has been steadfast in a multitude of tests to improve the capsule. Most of the final tests are extra safety demonstrations SpaceX wants to take to showcase the functionality of the spacecraft, ensuring the security of the astronauts onboard. And while NASA has expressed concerns over parachute systems based on previous tests where the spacecraft hit the ground harder than it should have and sustained damage, SpaceX responded and took the notes very seriously. At the end of October through November, SpaceX completed an unprecedented 12 consecutive and successful parachute drop tests, in a single week.


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