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NASA, SpaceX finish Crew Dragon review; March 2 launch date still targeted

By
Sam Howard
The Crew Dragon spacecraft will travel to the International Space Station where it will test docking procedures after its planned launch on March 2. File Photo by SpaceX/UPI
The Crew Dragon spacecraft will travel to the International Space Station where it will test docking procedures after its planned launch on March 2. File Photo by SpaceX/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- NASA and SpaceX officials completed the flight readiness review ahead of the planned launch of an unmanned SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station.

Calling it a "phenomenal" review, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations William Gerstenmaier said at a news conference the Crew Dragon capsule remains on schedule for the planned launch date and time of 2:48 a.m. March 2. Its launch will be called Demo-1, or DM-1.

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Gerstenmaier added, however, that the review yielded plans to look further at the Crew Dragon's software, specifically at how it functions while the capsule approaches the ISS.

Gerstenmaier and Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, said the flight next week, though unmanned, will have implications on future launches. Even after the launch in March, SpaceX must complete the unmanned flight test before it can launch the Crew Dragon with a crew in tow.

"We need to execute a successful mission with SpaceX next week and we need to take all the learning out of this mission and we need to apply it to our upcoming crewed missions to make sure that we can deliver on our promise for delivering safe crew transportation to the International Space Station," Lueders said.

Originally slated for late August, Demo-1's launch date has been pushed back multiple times.

Another private unmanned spaceflight by Boeing is also in the works.

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