Tech magnate Elon Musk’s SpaceX vowed Monday to ship its first astronauts into orbit on schedule subsequent yr — a part of a drive to restore America’s dominance of the space race.
Gwynne Shotwell, the aerospace producer’s president, advised journalists in Los Angeles an unmanned flight to the International Space Station in November would pave the way in which for a manned mission 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 mentioned.
NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 as a part of its business crew program, aimed toward serving to non-public business construct spaceships to attain low-Earth orbit.
On August three the company named the primary 9 astronauts who will fly to space on Boeing and SpaceX autos in 2019 — a mixture of novices and veterans.
Those named for the SpaceX check crew embrace shuttle veterans Bob Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Douglas Hurley, alongside naval aviator Victor Glover, a novice to spaceflight.
The flights to the ISS would be the first leaving US soil to put individuals into orbit because the iconic space shuttle program led to 2011.
For seven years, NASA astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft — at a value of some $80 million a seat.
A US authorities report launched in July mentioned it was unlikely that SpaceX would give you the option to ship astronauts to the ISS subsequent yr.
Shotwell mentioned nonetheless the mission would go forward as quickly 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 entrance of the module that may transport them to the ISS, to reply questions from the media.
“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,” mentioned Hurley.
“But I would also say that we’ve got a lot of work left to do.”
A mock up of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is displayed throughout a media tour of SpaceX headquarters and rocket manufacturing unit in Hawthorne, California
(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
The SpaceX spacesuit to be worn by NASA astronauts after they journey to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule