SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is set to blast off on a test flight this weekend, but before it does, the company has some leaky toilets to fix. The company revealed that they discovered an issue with the seal of one of their two new toilet systems aboard its crew-carrying vehicle in late December.
The SpaceX team has been working around-the-clock since then to get everything fixed and ready for Saturday’s launch date.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is depending on the success of Crew Dragon, as it will be the first privately developed rocket and spacecraft to carry humans to space.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the vehicle, including its unoccupied dummy passenger named Ripley after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien, took off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday evening.
The spacecraft has since been outfitted with the new Red toilet system, but before it gets to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts aboard have to make sure there are no more leaks or malfunctions. The issue was discovered after an initial round of functionality tests revealed water leaking into the waste containment system. The issue was resolved by replacing all internal seals and thorough testing before another test run to the ISS was approved.
The team took robust action, completed all the steps necessary to safely fly again, and approved fuel loading for launch, said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX.
Today’s launch of the Falcon 9 rocket is an incredibly exciting time for SpaceX and I am honored to be able to participate in the final pre-launch activities, said astronaut Doug Hurley, who was tapped as one of Crew Dragon’s original test pilots. I am also thrilled to congratulate our NASA and SpaceX teams on their continued success!
The launch of the Crew Dragon is a huge step forward for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, as well as a sign of how far SpaceX has come since its first flight eight years ago.
In 2008, Musk founded SpaceX with one goal: to make spaceflight affordable and accessible to everyone. In 2010, the company received their first contract from NASA to deliver cargo to the ISS, with plans to carry humans in the future.
The program has since come a long way, and SpaceX isn’t alone anymore. When it first started out it was just one of three private spaceflight companies hoping to win NASA contracts for crewed missions, but now Boeing is also along for the ride after winning its own contract in 2016.
SpaceX is now one of two companies to have ever sent a spacecraft out to the ISS, with the first successful docking occurring back in 2012.