SpaceX vows manned flight to space station is on track

August 14, 2018
A mock up of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is displayed during a media tour of SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, California

Tech magnate Elon Musk's SpaceX vowed Monday to send its first astronauts into orbit on schedule next year—part of a drive to restore America's dominance of the space race.

Gwynne Shotwell, the aerospace manufacturer's president, told journalists in Los Angeles an unmanned flight to the International Space Station in November would pave the way for a in April 2019.

"Predicting launch dates could make a liar out of the best of us. I hope I am not proven to be a liar on this one," she said.

NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit.

On August 3 the agency named the first nine who will fly to space on Boeing and SpaceX vehicles in 2019—a mix of novices and veterans.

Those named for the SpaceX test crew include shuttle veterans Bob Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Douglas Hurley, alongside naval aviator Victor Glover, a novice to spaceflight.

The flights to the ISS will be the first leaving US soil to put people into orbit since the iconic space shuttle program ended in 2011.

For seven years, NASA astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft—at a cost of some $80 million a seat.

(L-R) Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover, the NASA astronauts chosen for the Commercial Crew Program to fly on the SpaceX Crew Dragon

A US government report released in July said it was unlikely that SpaceX would be able to send astronauts to the ISS next year.

Shotwell said however the mission would go ahead as soon as SpaceX was "ready to fly these folks safely."

"Next in line we want to make sure not only that we get these folks up and back safely but that that's reliable and a mission that we conclude," she added.

"We want to hit all the boxes do everything we need to do, to demonstrate that this vehicle is capable of taking astronauts up from US soil as often as NASA will allow us."

SpaceX unveiled its astronauts, all clad in blue overalls and smiling proudly in front of the module that will transport them to the ISS, to answer questions from the media.

The SpaceX spacesuit to be worn by NASA astronauts when they travel to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

"Being able to fly as a first flight a vehicle as a test pilot is a 'once in a generation' type of opportunity, so obviously I'm very thankful for it," said Hurley.

"But I would also say that we've got a lot of work left to do."

Explore further: Astronauts picked for SpaceX, Boeing capsule test flights

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DrMordrid
5 / 5 (6) Aug 14, 2018
In four passenger trim - at the bottom are three cargo bins; in the mid-deck are 4 seats; and above them are the fold-away controls (3 screens), a toilet & privacy screen, and the International Docking Adapter & main hatch.

In seven passenger "Lifeboat" trim (ex: evacuate the ISS) - the cargo bins are removed and three extra seats are installed.
NoStrings
5 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2018
Musk should go on the first flight. It would be so cool, and in character.
Go-go-go-go-Musk!
Particularly, they aren't going to do anything on the first flight.
GO!~
EnricM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2018
"part of a drive to restore America's dominance of the space race"

They should restart doing animal tests, I think there is a good specimen for that in the White House.
carbon_unit
not rated yet Aug 15, 2018
What a long slog this has been. Pity the government did not begin to plan a replacement for the shuttle in any sort of reasonable time. But then what we're about to get should be much better than anything from a decade ago.
They should restart doing animal tests, I think there is a good specimen for that in the White House.
If your refer to the Orange One, be careful. That one tends to ruin everything. On the other hand, he's so self centered that I'm surprised he hasn't formed an event horizon. So maybe we should get him as far away from Earth as we can.
Steelwolf
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2018
It was a real pity that they discontinued the Saturn V Program and more Apollo launches just because of the Shuttle. The Space Shuttle was supposed to be our work truck to get things into orbit and carry the repairmen to be able to do maintenance on things in orbit, such as the Hubble STS. Saturn V's were supposed to launch heavier items into higher orbit and in using both we should have been able to set up self-sufficient stations, or ones close to it already, but certainly bigger, better and more advanced than our ISS.

On the other subject I was thinking our Orange Test Dummy would have been perfect for either Tesla's Car pilot or even the recent launch of the Parker Solar Probe: being orange would be a heat reflective bonus, and he is obviously not an Oxygen used so that would be no problem.

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