] NASA Friday, SpaceX gave the green light to test a new crew capsule by first sending an unmanned vessel with a lifestyle mannequin to the international space station.
"We're going to launch, we're going to docking," said William Gerstenmaier, association administrator with Nasa Human Exploration and Operations.
A Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX is scheduled to lift off where the weather allows on March 2 to take the Crew Dragon test capsule to the ISS.
Nasa signed contracts in 201
This is the first time that the US space agency lets a private company transport their astronauts. 19659004] Nasa ended the Space shuttle program in 2011 and since then has relied on buying stains on Russian Soyuz rockets to send American astronauts to the Immediate ISS.
"This is an absolutely critical first step as we do when we move back to returning the occupied launch capacity back to the United States," said Gerstenmaier, speaking at a press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
On March 2, flying will be identical to a flight set to take two astronauts to the ISS later this year, possibly in July.
The Crew Dragon capsule has seven seats. It will be docked with the ISS on March 3 and then loosen and return to Earth on March 8th.
"I guarantee everything doesn't work exactly and that's cool, that's exactly what we want to do," Gerstenmaier said. 19659004] "We want to maximize our learning so when … we are ready to make a true crew mission and it will be the right assurance for our crews."
SpaceX has already made more than a dozen unmanned tours since 2012 which transports supplies to the ISS with the load version of the Dragon capsule.
But the safety criteria for manned planes are higher, and Nasa said that Crew Dragon still has some issues, including with its parachutes.
"It's a really big deal for SpaceX," said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of the company.