NASA Confirms Launch Time for SpaceX's ‘Demo-1’ Crew Dragon

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is nearly ready for liftoff. NASA announced on Wednesday that it has fixed a time for the first test launch of the human-carrying capsule developed by Elon Musk’s firm. These tests will mark the first time a capsule created for human spaceflight by an American private company will visit the International Space Station.

The agency is targeting a launch time of 2:48 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 2. It will take off on board a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The capsule is expected to reach preliminary orbit around 10 minutes later, docking to the International Space Station on Sunday, March 3, at 5:55 a.m. Eastern time. The capsule will be sent to the station carrying 400 pounds of equipment for space station scientists, before laving on March 8 with research samples. The capsule will start its deorbit burn five hours after, lasting for 10 minutes, before entering the Earth’s atmosphere for 30 minutes before landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon.

See more: Elon Musk Shares Photo of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon With Falcon 9 and Walkway

The launch will mark a big moment in spaceflight history, as commercial teams will develop the ability to send people into space. SpaceX has yet to send a person into space, but it’s currently building the Starship capable of transporting up to 100 people into space at once. The ship is intended for missions around the moon with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, as well as the first human flights to Mars. SpaceFund founder Rick Tumlinson, who refers to the Starship as a “Mayflower-class ship,” declared to Inverse that this ability will be “the beginning of the biggest revolution in the history of humanity, if not life itself.”

SpaceX has been tasked with helping NASA send people to and from the International Space Station. Since the agency’s shuttle program ended in 2011, that task has been entrusted with Russia’s Soyuz rockets, which take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Seats on a Soyuz rocket cost approximately $81 million each. SpaceX is working alongside Boeing, which is developing the CST-100, to conduct these trips from American soil.

Following the first unmanned flight, the company is expected to host an in-flight abort test in June 2019. The second test flight, dubbed Demo-2, could take place as early as the following month.

Once that’s complete, it may not be long before SpaceX hosts the first flight of its Mayflower-class ship.

NASA Gets to Grips With SpaceX Crew Dragon
Media via SpaceX/Twitter, SpaceX, NASA