#NASA; #SpaceX; #InternationalSpaceStation
Washington, Oct 12 (Canadian-Media): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced yesterday that if tests on the company's long-delayed Crew Dragon capsule prove conclusive, SpaceX could launch US astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2020, ScienceXNewsletter reported.
(L-R) NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, and astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken speaking during a news conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019
SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, a major contractor for NASA, to help reduce space transportation costs with an ultimate goal of helping colonize Mars.
Although Musk hoped to have the capsule delivered to NASA by the end of the year, he stressed that safety was paramount.
"If everything goes according to plan, it would be in the first quarter of next year," Bridenstine said of the launch. "But remember—and this is the important thing that we have to get right on messaging—there are still things that we can learn or could learn that could be challenging that we have to resolve.
"I'm not saying that's going to happen, I don't know. That's why we test."
Employees of SpaceX work on the Crew Dragon reusable spacecraft during a press conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019
"It's a pretty arduous engineering job to get the parachutes right," Musk said.
"Parachutes, they look easy but they are definitely not easy," he added. "We want to get at least something on the order of 10 successful tests in a row before launching astronauts."
After retiring its space shuttle program, NASA had been relying on Russia to ferry astronauts to and from the space station at a cost of $85 million a seat. It is now counting on SpaceX and Boeing to carry out that task.
The first manned flight to the space station was due to take place last year but SpaceX suffered a major setback in April when its Crew Dragon spacecraft exploded during testing, prompting delays and renewed tests.
"You know, honestly, if there's a test program and nothing happens in that test program, I would say that test program is insufficiently rigorous," Musk said Thursday.
"Space is hard," he added.