NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) are working to make sure that everything is in place for the second scheduled demonstration flight under the $1.6 billion Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract. The firm has been preparing its Dragon spacecraft to be launched on one of the private space company’s Falcon 9 rockets currently scheduled to take place on 12:22 p.m. EDT on April, 30.
The mission is actually two flights combined into one. SpaceX lobbied for and received permission from NASA to combine the second and third demonstration flights into a single mission.
In an effort to ensure the mission’s success, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur conducted what is known as a crew equipment interface test or “CEIT” test on March 28. McArthur assisted with the test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) located in Florida.
The test is part of the prelaunch preparations and lasted for approximately five hours. The procedure traces its beginnings back to the space shuttle era and is pretty straightforward in what it seeks to provide. Astronauts and payload integration personnel get to train on the actual flight hardware that they will be using on-orbit – while safely on the ground.