SpaceX Crew Dragon To Ferry Astronauts To Space In 2020

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NASA is supporting various private space agencies to build American spacecrafts to send astronauts to space. SpaceX might finally be ready to send NASA astronauts to space in early 2020. Back in 2014, NASA had granted $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion to SpaceX and Boeing, respectively, to build the spacecrafts which will take off in 2020.

SpaceX Crew Dragon To Ferry Astronauts

 

SpaceX To Fly NASA Astronauts

NASA astronauts were heavily dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts since July 2011, when NASA halted its space shuttle fleet. There have been instances of space voyages using the American fleet, like the Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. But the dependency had largely been on Russia for spacecrafts, till now.

SpaceX and Boeing are nearing completion of their astronaut taxis, namely the Crew Dragon and the CST-100 Starliner, respectively. While the work began in 2014, NASA officials had said they wanted at least one of the vehicles to be ready for launch before 2018.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Ready For Launch

SpaceX couldn't deliver the space shuttle back then, but it's now in the final stage of development. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that SpaceX's Crew Dragon is nearly ready. "We are getting very close, and we're very confident that, in the first part of next year, we will be ready to launch American astronauts on American rockets," Bridenstine said.

NASA's Bridenstine also added that the first quarter of 2020 gives SpaceX a reasonable time for its Demo-2 mission. This will be a test flight that will take NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Following the test, NASA would then give operational and contracted ISS missions.

 

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said at the event: "We certainly want to get at least something on the order of 10 successful tests in a row before launching astronauts." If everything goes according to plan, Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rockets will be up and running with NASA astronauts quite soon.

SpaceX, NASA For Space Exploration

However, both NASA and SpaceX are cautious about the upcoming test flights and the contracts. Musk notes two issues- the abort propulsion system and the parachutes are still under development and could put the schedule under risk. Plus, there could be other factors as well, Musk noted.

On the other hand, Bridenstine is stressing on the timeline and says a contractual agreement will be signed depending upon Crew Dragon's development and sticking to the schedule. However, considering the high-risk factor, both have noted nothing will be rushed. "This is a big deal for our country, and we can't get it wrong. We want to make sure we get it right," Bridenstine said.

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