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NASA, SpaceX Knock Down Russian Report on Dragon Not Berthing at ISS

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 16, 2011
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NASA and SpaceX have both knocked down a report by RIA Novosti that the Dragon freighter will not be allowed to dock at the International Space Station on its next flight.

A story on the publication’s website said:

The U.S. private space capsule Dragon will conduct a flight near the International Space Station (ISS), but docking between them is not planned, Vladimir Solovyov, head of the Russian segment of the ISS mission control center said on Friday.

Earlier Russia said it will not allow the SpaceX vehicle to dock with the ISS unless its safety is fully tested.

“We will not issue docking permission unless the necessary level of reliability and safety is proven,” said Alexei Krasov, head of the human spaceflight department of Roscosmos. “So far we have no proof that this spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety.”

NASA knocked down the report in a Tweet today, saying no decision had been made. SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham confirmed NASA’s statement in an e-mail to Parabolic Arc.

NASA has tentatively agreed to allow SpaceX to berth Dragon at the International Space Station on its next flight — the second for the freighter. A final decision awaits a series of reviews. Under the original schedule, Dragon would conduct a flyby of ISS on its second flight and be berthed there on the third if all went well. Conducting a successful berthing would allow SpaceX to begin commercial cargo delivery under contract to NASA.

When the next Dragon flight will take place is uncertain. It was originally scheduled for late November, with a berthing nine days later. However, the recent loss of Russian Progress cargo ship will delay the crew rotation because both the freighter and Soyuz spacecraft use the same booster. A crew trained to berth the Dragon won’t arrive at ISS until late December.


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