SpaceX's long-delayed Crew Dragon could successfully launch US astronauts to the International Space station next year if all tests proved conclusive. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine addressed the global media, saying that if ‘everything goes as per plan’ Crew Dragon will be all set for its first space mission. The statement came on October 9 when Bridenstine visited the California headquarters of Elon Musk's SpaceX.
The American space shuttle program was shut down long back in 2011, but once the Dragon Crew is ready, it will be able to launch astronauts to the space station for the first time after 2011. In April, this year the Dragon Crew failed its ground test as it suffered an explosion and technical challenges with the re-entry parachute system. However, the announcement from the NASA administrator in the delay is an indication that NASA is again looking forward to collaborating with SpaceX and believes that Dragon Crew will be able to manage the launch.
Elon Musk also addressed the conference along with Bridenstine and two astronauts who will undertake the space mission. Elon Musk said that he is hopeful that the spacecraft will be delivered to NASA by the end of this year. He also asserted that the safety of the astronauts is the first priority and there will be no second thoughts in the delay of the launch is any technical glitches arise. Bridenstine reflected on the development of the capsule. He said that NASA looks forward to its successful development which will help in re-launching the American space missions and sending astronauts to space.
During the visit, the capsule was carefully examined. SpaceX is presently working on the technical aspect of the spacecraft which majorly concerns the propulsion system and the parachutes. Musk said that it takes perfect engineering skills to make the parachutes right. NASA is excited as the US space missions were put to a halt, NASA was dependent on Russia to provide transportation to the astronauts to and fro the space station at the cost of $85 million per seat. Hence NASA is now expecting SpaceX and Boeing to carry out the task.
(with inputs from PTI)