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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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Space Exploration Critical for our Survival, Says Jeff Bezos

He envisions fuelling rockets with lunar ice water and using the Moon as the base to explore space further

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

While Elon Musk-led SpaceX always stays in limelight, world’s richest person Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin is fast catching up because for him, “space exploration is critical to our survival”.

In an interview with CBS News along with John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline late on Wednesday, Bezos who founded Blue Origin almost 19 years back said he wants his company to be “an instrumental part” of return to the Moon by the US.

“We’re going to be, I hope, an instrumental part of it in cooperation with dozens of companies and governments,” Bezos was quoted as saying.

“To go back to the Moon and the time frame that the administration wants to do, we absolutely need the support of the government to do that,” Bezos said.

In May, Bezos unveiled Blue Origin’s vision for space and also plans for a Moon lander known as “Blue Moon”, set to be ready by 2024.

“I think it is important for this planet. I think it’s important for the dynamism of future generations. It is something I care deeply about,” said Bezos.

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Bezos whose worth nearly $119 billion is running out of money. VOA

The Moon lander “Blue Moon” was in development for three years.

“We must return to the Moon – this time to stay,” the Blue Origin CEO had said.

Bezos revealed that the larger variant of the lander would not only be able to get people on the Moon but also be able to carry the rover to shoot off small satellites and execute scientific missions.

Also Read: Twitter Testing a New Feature Called ‘Hide Replies’

In the near future, Bezos envisions creating enormous space colonies in close proximity to Earth, as a way of expanding humanity to a trillion people.

He envisions fuelling rockets with lunar ice water and using the Moon as the base to explore space further.

“We can harvest that ice and use it to make hydrogen and oxygen, which are rocket propellants,” Bezos said recently. (IANS)