July 24 (UPI) — U.S. space exploration technology company SpaceX’s manned dragon spacecraft is scheduled to conduct its first official mission in late September,media reported.
Initially, SpaceX and NASA set the mission for August, but the updated schedule says it’s “late September,” giving time for the manned dragon to complete its final demonstration mission, with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley likely to return to Earth as early as August 1.
While the demonstration mission sent astronauts to the International Space Station, it was actually the final step in the testing and development phase of the manned Dragon and Falcon 9 rockets, meaning they would be eligible for routine space missions and could pick up NASA astronauts.
And the first official operation means that SpaceX’s manned Dragon spacecraft is the first to begin a commercial contract with NASA to provide regular astronaut pick-up and drop-off services. The mission will carry three NASA astronauts and a Japanese astronaut who will make a long stay on the space station and conduct experiments and research.
Of course, SpaceX has many other conditions to meet before it can begin full operation by the end of September, including the successful return of Hurley and Benken from the International Space Station. This is the final part of the demonstration mission, and only success is the completion of the entire SpaceX certification process.