NASA aims for first manned SpaceX mission in first-quarter 2020
SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon astronaut capsule will be ready for its first manned flight into orbit in the first quarter of next year provided “everything goes according to plan” in upcoming tests, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Thursday.
The pronouncement of a revised time frame signaled NASA believes SpaceX is getting the Crew Dragon project back on track following an explosion during a ground test in April and technical challenges with its re-entry parachute system.
Bridenstine said successful development of the capsule was key to achieving NASA’s top priority – the resumed “launching of American astronauts on American rockets from American soil” for the first time since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
The NASA administrator spoke to reporters at the end of a visit to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, just outside Los Angeles, where chief executive Elon Musk led him on a tour of the sprawling manufacturing plant.
Their joint appearance by a giant glass-enclosed “clean room” where engineers were working on a Crew Dragon marked a show of unity following a rare public spat over delays in the project.
Source: Reuters Magazine