SpaceX has successfully completed a key test of the Crew Dragon’s upgraded Mark 3 parachutes. The test was the final major hurdle before the launch of the maiden crewed Dragon flight later this month.
On March 1, SpaceX announced on Twitter that the company had completed its 27th and final test of the upgraded Crew Dragon Mark 3 parachutes. Although not specifically stated, an image included with the announcement indicated that the test utilized a test article that simulated the approximate weight and size of the spacecraft.
The test is the final major milestone before the launch of the SpaceX crewed demonstration mission (Demo-2) later this month. The mission will carry NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, both of whom are agency veterans who flew on the space shuttle.
“It’s a great honor to be part of this mission,” explained Hurley during a televised pre-mission conference. “It’s amazing after all this time to be less than a month away from launch down in Florida.”
Behnken and Hurley were selected as the primary crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission on August 3, 2018. Since then, the pair have worked closely with SpaceX in training for the maiden crewed mission which is currently scheduled to be launched on May 27, 2020.
The crew and their Dragon spacecraft will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket from the historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. It will carry Behnken and Hurley to the International Space Station for an extended stay. Once docked with the station’s Harmony module, NASA will work with the crew to carry out a series of key test objectives.
“This is really to shake down and demonstrate that all the preparations and the emergency capabilities we’ve built into this vehicle have made it reliable,” said Zeb Scoville, NASA Demo-2 flight director.
Following the currently undefined extended stay docked to the space station, Behnken and Hurley will board the Crew Dragon and return to Earth splashing down in the Atlantic under the now fully tested Mark 3 parachutes.