For the Crew Dragon spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, SpaceX had to meet some requirements. NASA gave them the certification four days before the launch. That was during the mission’s flight readiness review. It’s at that time when its officials signed the Human Rating Certification Plan document.
The signing was a clear indication that both the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle meets all the requirements. Kathy Lueders said that it was a great day that marked the climax of a lot of effort. Before being promoted to the NASA human exploration and operations associate administrator in June, she was in charge of the agency’s commercial crew program for some years. She added that the certification shows the capabilities of SpaceX to provide not only a crew transportation spacecraft but also one that is per all the requirements.
Before signing the document, the officials analyzed a few small changes that SpaceX had worked on after this summer’s Demo-2 test flight. For instance, the company changed the heat shield. Another modification was a sensor that would trigger the capsules to release parachutes once it started descending. Considering that Falcon 9 had experienced a launch failure of a GPS 3 satellite back on October 2, SpaceX had to fix the problem that led to the same which revolved around its engine. The review showed that it had a solution.
Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, says that the certification was evident that the agency working together with the commercial industry would mean more progress, no doubt. He also added that it is an achievement for both parties, SpaceX and NASA. It was great seeing the two say kind words to each other since that hasn’t been the case for several years.
On the other hand, SpaceX’s chief executive Elon Musk also had something to say. He was grateful to the agency for support and collaboration. He also appreciated the work that the company’s employees had done to see the success of the mission and the fact that SpaceX made history.
The launch was scheduled for November 14 at 7:49 p.m. Eastern Time, whereas the venue was the Kennedy Space Center. Despite SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket undergoing some minor repair ahead of the launch, it was a success. After all, SpaceX’s human spaceflight programs director Benji Reed had said the repair would only take a few hours. He also added that the company didn’t see a need to reschedule it due to that fact. However, the actual date and time were November 15 at 7:27 p.m. Eastern Time.
Onboard were four astronauts, and while three were from NASA, one of them was from JAXA. Their names are Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Soichi Noguchi, with Soichi being the JAXA representative. The mission is science-related and will take place in the international space station for the next six months.