SpaceX moves toward manned flight

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Artist's concept of Falcon 9's second stage ignition (Image: Spacex)

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SpaceX has completed the first three performance milestones for the manned version of its Dragon/Falcon 9 spacecraft and launch system. In an announcement at its Hawthorne, California, headquarters, SpaceX said that the milestones are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to develop privately owned and operated manned spacecraft capable of taking passengers into low Earth orbit for NASA and private customers.

As SpaceX moves into what NASA calls the “third commercial crew phase” of the initiative, SpaceX provided the space agency with an integrated systems requirements review, which outlines the techniques the company will use to design, build and test the Dragon/Falcon 9 system. It also told NASA how it intends to handle manned flights from ground operations through to landing.

Mock up of the manned version of the Dragon capsule (Image: Spacex)

Previous milestones included a technical baseline review where NASA and SpaceX reviewed the Dragon/Falcon 9 system and discussed plans for ground operations for manned flights, and a review of SpaceX’s plans for achieving CCiCap milestones and the company’s financial resources.

In addition, SpaceX has developed an emergency abort system using a SuperDraco Engine that will fly the capsule to safety in the event of a launch emergency.

Source: NASA

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