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SpaceX Crew Rocket Ready For Launch In January: NASA

The Jan. 7 launch date announcement comes a day after NASA said it would conduct a "cultural assessment study" of the companies.

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SpaceX shows its new spacesuit that will be worn by NASA astronauts during their first spaceflights in the Crew Dragon spacecraft during a visit to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, U.S. VOA

The first flight of a SpaceX rocket tailored to fly astronauts to the International Space Station is set for liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 7, NASA said on Wednesday.

The launch test is a crucial milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to launch humans to space from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft — which will shuttle three astronauts to space from the same launch pad that sent Apollo 11’s three-man crew to the moon in 1969 — will make its debut flight atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on January 7.

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A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. VOA

While NASA did not detail the flight path, it said the test would provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9, Crew Dragon capsule, and ground systems, as well as on-orbit, docking and landing operations.

SpaceX and Boeing Co are the two main contractors selected under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to send astronauts to space as soon as 2019, using their Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner spacecraft respectively.

Since the U.S. space shuttle program was shut down in 2011, NASA has had to rely on Russia to fly astronauts to the space station, a $100 billion orbital research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.

The Demo-1 launch is the latest test in a rigorous certification timeline imposed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. While SpaceX is targeting early January, NASA spokeswoman Marie Lewis said the demo mission could be pushed back because “flying safely has always taken precedence over schedule.”

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A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket (VOA)

Founded by Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk, SpaceX said if the January 7 test is successful, it plans to launch its first crewed mission in June 2019, but the timeline may shift.

Boeing plans a similar test launch of the Starliner spacecraft atop its Atlas 5 rocket as soon as March, with a crewed mission following in August.

Also Read: NASA Chooses Landing Site For Mars 2020 Rover

The Jan. 7 launch date announcement comes a day after NASA said it would conduct a “cultural assessment study” of the companies, “including the adherence to a drug-free environment,” prior to crew test flights. (VOA)

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NASA Failed to Trace Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram Lander on Lunar Surface

On July 22, the Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into space by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III

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NASA, Chandrayaan 2, Vikram Lander
A NASA scientist said the spacecraft failed to trace Vikram because of two reasons -- one, Vikram is located outside the area the US agency photographed, second, because it's lying in a shadowed part of the moon. Wikimedia Commons

US Space agency NASA has once again failed to trace Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander on the lunar surface.

A NASA spacecraft clicked photos of the landing site of Vikram earlier this month, but couldn’t capture the lander.

A NASA scientist said the spacecraft failed to trace Vikram because of two reasons — one, Vikram is located outside the area the US agency photographed, second, because it’s lying in a shadowed part of the moon.

On July 22, the Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into space by India’s heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

NASA, Chandrayaan 2, Vikram Lander
A NASA spacecraft clicked photos of the landing site of Vikram earlier this month, but couldn’t capture the lander. Wikimedia Commons

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised three segments — the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), Vikram (1,471 kg, four payloads) and Pragyan (27 kg, two payloads).

After five earth-bound orbit raising activities, Chandrayaan-2 was inserted into the lunar orbit. On September 2, Vikram separated from the orbiter. It made a historic landing attempt on September 7.

According to NASA, Vikram attempted a landing on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters.

This event was India’s first attempt at a soft landing on the moon.

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The US agency said Vikram’s targeted landing site was located about 600 kilometres (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8AoS latitude, 23.5AoE longitude).

According to NASA, Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands has yet to be determined. (IANS)