NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] has cleared the astronaut launch systems designed by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer. The company is now authorized to conduct its first unmanned test flight to International Space Station on March 2.
NASA has awarded the aerospace manufacturer $2.6 billion to build separate rocket and capsule launch systems to safely take people to and from the space station located in an Orbital research laboratory that flies 402 km above the earth.
“Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station,” NASA said in a statement, according to a Reuters report.
Recently, NASA cited concerns over four “key risk items” of the SpaceX’s astronaut launch systems in a report published by the American space agency. Sources cited in the report that these four items were not the only concerns of NASA. There are about 30 to 35 technical concerns for the machines of both the companies, the sources cited in the report. Reportedly, these were considered as safety concerns that could not be overlooked.
This might have caused a delay in the test flight of the crew capsule built by SpaceX, however, the space agency seems to have given authorization for the test flight. The SpaceX systems have already been delayed several times in the past few years. This is common considering the technology and complexity associated with building a spacecraft, especially one which is required to carry humans to and fro from space.
The American manned space exploration program shut down in 2011. In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered NASA to revive the program promising that “America will once again reach for the moon”. The mission aims to send American astronauts to the moon for long-term exploration. It also plans an eventual mission to Mars.
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