The Crew Dragon being prepared for the NASA Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will be the most capable spacecraft SpaceX has built to date.
During a NASA livestream to discuss the progress of the Demo-1 mission among other matters, the agency’s Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich revealed the spacecraft being prepared for the Crew-1 mission will be the most capable Dragon to date.
According to Stich, the vehicle will have the ability to dock at the Zenith port of the ISS, relocate ports, and will have a “a few other capabilities” the Demo-1 Dragon did not. Additionally, with reports that the Demo-1 spacecraft currently docked to the ISS is producing more power from its solar arrays than expected, the Crew-1 vehicle is shaping up to not only be the most capable spacecraft SpaceX has ever built but the most capable currently operational in the world today.
The Crew-1 Dragon underwent final propulsion system checkouts towards the end of last month at the SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California. This included a series of leak and valve checks. Once completed, the vehicle was shipped to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to be mated with its trunk, which is currently undergoing acoustic testing.
Once ready, the Crew-1 Dragon will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 sporting a new Block 5 booster that was shipped to KSC last week. The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage is set to undergo testing at the SpaceX Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas this month. Once testing is complete, it will be the final major element of the Crew-1 mission to be shipped to KSC.
The NASA SpaceX Crew-1 mission is expected to be launched later this year. The exact launch date will depend on when the crew of Demo-1 returns to Earth. NASA and SpaceX will require at least six weeks between the two events to review the data from the maiden crewed Dragon flight and certify the vehicle for operational flight. As a result, the Crew-1 launch could be launched as early as mid-September.