SpaceX Completes Final Test of Crew Dragon’s Upgraded Mark 3 Parachutes

SpaceX has completed the 27th and final test of Crew Dragon manned spacecraft’s upgraded Mark 3 parachutes, the company announced.

With this milestone, the company is one step closer to flying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

Crew Dragon is scheduled to lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:32 p.m. EDT on May 27, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, for an extended stay at the space station for the Demo-2 mission. The specific duration of the mission is yet to be determined. This will be the first crew spaceflight from the U.S. soil since 2011.

As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.

The Demo-2 mission will be the final major step before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. This certification and regular operation of Crew Dragon will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station, which benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars with the agency’s Artemis program.

SpaceX Mark 3 Parachutes
The 27th and final test of SpaceX Crew Dragon manned spacecraft’s upgraded Mark 3 parachutes. SpaceX Photo.

Crew Dragon or Dragon 2 is a class of reusable spacecraft developed and manufactured by U.S. aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, intended as the successor to the Dragon cargo spacecraft. The spacecraft launches atop a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket and returns via ocean splashdown.

When compared to Dragon, Dragon 2 has larger windows, new flight computers and avionics, redesigned solar arrays, and a modified outer mold line. Crew Dragon is also equipped with an integrated launch escape system in a set of four side-mounted thruster pods with two SuperDraco engines each.

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