Eastern March 2, in an instantaneous launch window. The review featured more than 100 people from NASA and SpaceX, examining the readiness of both the spacecraft and the station to support the mission. The Russian space agency corrected the problem, revised the launch schedule and Koch, already in training for a downstream flight, was added to the mission.
The flight plan calls for the Demo-1 Crew Dragon to stay at the orbiting lab for just under a week, undocking on March 8 and aiming for a splashdown in the Atlantic off Florida.
The Crew Dragon capsule has seven seats.
The new Falcon 9 Saturday will also attempt a landing.
That mission, Demo-2, is scheduled for no earlier than July, a schedule that will depend on what work will be needed to respond to issues discovered during the Demo-1 test. "It's great that we're getting ready to go do this". A redundant system is employed on Japanese and European cargo vessels that dock with the ISS. The Crew Dragon doesn't have this function.
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During the same press briefing, William Gerstenmaier, the NASA associate administrator, explained that Russia's concerns were related to the U.S. agency's lack of a backup computer system to prevent Crew Dragon from colliding with the ISS if the vehicle goes dead.
Russia, NASA's main partner on the station, has raised concerns about this, noting that if this system goes out the spacecraft might drift and crash into the station. "We think we have sufficient rationale for that".
"It's exciting to have set the launch for March 2nd", said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, during the conference.
"But we know the hardware is good enough to go do this demonstration flight", he said. The launch will take place on March 2, and the spacecraft will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:48 a.m. EST. Two NASA astronauts will be in the spacecraft then, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. Anticipating potential weather or technical issues, SpaceX should have three opportunities to launch between March 2 and March 9, but if it misses this window it's not clear when the company would have another attempt. SpaceX recovery crews stationed nearby will pull the capsule onto a ship and haul it back to Port Canaveral for detailed post-flight inspections.
This will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station, since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA said on Friday.