Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), announced it has assembled a team of outside experts to advise the company about safety and human spaceflight systems. The panel has been tasked with providing objective assessments of the Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket in order to provide high levels of safety for the human crew. Members of the panel include:
The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to be launched at the end of April aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The flight is designed to satisfy the goals of both the SpaceX COTS 2 and COTS 3 missions (Commercial Orbital Transportation System).
Success would mean that SpaceX could begin fulfilling its $1.6 Billion contract with NASA for 12 missions to the International Space Station and delivery of more than 44,000 pounds of supplies.
Following several years of COTS deliveries to ISS, continuing development of the Dragon would lead to the ability to fly humans to the ISS under the Commercial Crew Development program (CCDev). The Safety Advisory Panel will play a key role in the transition from cargo to human flight for the Dragon.
Dr. Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut and ISS crew member, is now with SpaceX as the DragonRider Project Manager. This is the position responsible for the manned program. Popular Science carried an extensive interview with Reisman about the Safety Advisory Panel.
Artist’s View of the Dragon Spacecraft Docked to the International Space Station