SpaceX and NASA remain committed to Crew Dragon's manned testing in the face of no further delays. There are challenges on two fronts: on the one hand, the technical problems that have been overcome, on the other, the coronavirus that has kept the world population in isolation, especially in the United States, where it is already worrying. But the latest update from NASA realizes that the plans remain in place for May and has even opened the form for the accreditation of journalists interested in attending SpaceX passenger capsule testing.
The initial date for carrying out the tests was set for May 7, but now NASA opens the period a little more for the second half of the month. The space agency is attentive to the development of the coronavirus pandemic, but for now it is not the cause of further delays.
It should be noted that the Crew Dragon test flight will be the first flight from the United States since July 8, 2011, coinciding with the last mission of the space shuttle. Since then, NASA has been placing its astronauts on the International Space Station hitchhiking the Russian spacecraft Soyuz.
In January, the ultimate test of the Crew Dragon emergency system was carried out, one that would allow receiving the expected green light to start manned missions for the ISS. The ultimate test required the destruction of a Falcon 9, moments after being launched into space, carrying the astronaut transport capsule at its end. This served to test the escape system of the astronauts on board the Crew Dragon in the event of an incident.
If all goes as planned, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will travel on Crew Dragon to the ISS, which is the last step for Elon Musk's company to receive certification for transporting people into space. The flight will take place from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. According to NASA, the test includes the launch of the manned capsule, the docking at the ISS, the return to Earth and the rescue operations of astronauts in the ocean.
SpaceX is confident that everything will go well and has even started selling tickets for tourist trips, through a partnership with Space Adventures. Between one and four people are expected for an inaugural commercial flight between the end of 2021 and 2022. For now, the offer of up to five days to travel around Earth orbit and those interested in paying a few million for the trip will have to train for weeks on the company base, before the big launch day from Cape Canaveral.