I am wondering if there has been enough tests before the maiden manned flight of Demo-2 Crew Dragon. There were an autonomous flight test a year ago and a flight abort test late last year. There seem to be no other autonomous tests in between. Is this enough to give good confidence of the safety of the vehicle? What specific threshold requirements or conditions should be satisfied to obtain the approval for a maiden manned flight?
- The capsule itself did ground level abort test May 6, 2015.
- They flew the capsule unmanned to orbit, docked to the ISS and reentered properly March 2, 2019.
- They did an inflight abort Jan 19, 2020 where the capsule flew away from the booster midflight.
- Technically this first two person flight will be a demo flight as well.
That is distinct tests of each stage of flight.
Sure they could test forever, but NASA with it's very rigorous standards (The joke is that the paper work for rating Dragon piles higher than the booster) signed off on it, and in fact did not require Boeing to even do a In Flight abort suggests that it was tested sufficiently.
Also it helps that the booster has 85 some odd flights on it, the Dragon capsule it is based upon has flown to the ISS 20+ and returned, demonstrate that in general they are capable of the task.
One thing to also keep in mind is that there are a whole host of tests that don't involve the flight of a vehicle. There are ground tests of the thrusters, hardware tests running flight software, testing the software in computer simulations, and all kinds of other tests. These tests demonstrate that the system is safe. The hardware tests verify that the software simulations work. While there might have only been a few flight tests, there is ample testing of the various systems, and NASA has reviewed all of this data and decided it is tested.