“I think we’ve got a pretty good shot, but it is worth emphasizing that there’s a lot that can go wrong in a mission like this,” Musk told reporters after the review.
The comprehensive evaluation of the SpaceX mission is one of the last major steps before the company becomes the first commercial carrier to deliver payloads to the ISS. Although SpaceX founder and chief designer Elon Musk was careful to remind everybody that the flight is a test and success is far from guaranteed.
The Falcon rocket being used to launch the Dragon has been used twice, once inserting a Dragon capsule into low earth orbit. But Musk and NASA did emphasize that this is not an actual mission. The goal is to demonstrate SpaceX’s capabilities to launch, rendezvous with the ISS and return to earth. And while there will be some cargo on board and some cargo will be carried back from the space station, nothing on board is considered critical or irreplaceable. Musk reminded reporters of the difficulty of the mission, but he remains confident SpaceX will succeed.
The mission will take roughly four days until the Dragon will dock with the space station in orbit and combines two separate tests into a single flight. The capsule will then remain attached to the station for 18 days. The first demonstration test will be a flight around the space station to test and verify maneuverability, navigation and communication capabilities.