SpaceX is forging ahead with preparations for its next NASA astronaut mission, currently slated for a late October launch.
The spacecraft made the trip from SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and is now being processed at company facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Crew-1 will lift off from NASA’s nearby Kennedy Space Center no earlier than Oct. 23 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The first stage of that rocket has been in Florida since July. The upper stage is at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, where it performed a “static fire” test on Tuesday, NASA officials said. (Static fires are routine trials in which a rocket fires up while remaining tethered to the ground.)
Crew-1 is the first operational crewed mission that SpaceX will fly to the station for NASA under a $2.6 billion contract that Elon Musk’s company signed with the agency in 2014. The flight will carry four astronauts: NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japanese spaceflyer Soichi Noguchi.
SpaceX already has one crewed mission under its belt — the recent Demo-2 test flight, which sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the orbiting lab for a two-month stay. Crew-1 will last about six months, the usual stint for astronauts on the station.
Like SpaceX, Boeing holds a commercial crew contract with NASA, which the aerospace giant will fulfill using a capsule called CST-100 Starliner. Starliner is not yet ready to fly astronauts; the spacecraft must first ace an uncrewed test flight to the station, a mission scheduled to take place later this year.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.