10 August 2018
Spaceflight Now reports that NASA has approved a SpaceX proposal to “strap in astronauts atop Falcon 9 rockets, then fuel the launchers in the final hour of the countdown as the company does for its uncrewed missions.” The company’s “load-and-go” procedure, “in which an automatic countdown sequencer commands chilled kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen to flow into the Falcon 9 rocket in the final minutes before liftoff,” has “become standard” for the company’s satellite launches. According to NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders, the agency “went through a pretty extensive process where we laid out the different options for loading the crew, and assessing how the vehicles have been designed, and what the trades were.” NASA concluded, Lueders explained, that the “current baseline plan for how SpaceX plans to load the crews meets our requirements.” According to Lueders, SpaceX’s Demo-2 test flight will be preceded by an in-flight abort demonstration by about a month. Lueders added that both SpaceX and The Boeing Company “still have some residual work” to resolve technical issues. Lueders believes that the “biggest challenge, from a schedule perspective, for both providers right now is getting all our parachute testing done.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)