NASA and SpaceX agree commercial crew development is the "highest priority"

  • NASA and SpaceX agree commercial crew development is the

NASA and SpaceX agree commercial crew development is the "highest priority"

On a visit to the SpaceX headquarters, Bridenstine praised Elon Musk's company for its "fail fast, then fix" approach to spacecraft design after a personal tour and briefing at the sprawling manufacturing plant - a display of unity amid a rare public spat between the two keyspace figures.

Bridenstine reminded the eccentric billionaire to fully commit to the Commercial Crew mission and deliver what he promised.

The joint appearance of NASA's top executive and the leader in commercial space was focused on timing and budget for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which is the USA effort to once again launch people from Florida to the International Space Station. The vessel was aimed to be reusable, and the deadline given to both companies was 2017.

Elon Musk says the first manned test of his Crew Dragon spacecraft will take place in early 2020. They also successfully retrieved the spacecraft from the ocean.

Bridenstine said the agency was "still buying seats" for ride-along aboard Russia's Soyuz as an "insurance policy" against future delays in US crew capsule development. This mission's objective is not to reach the space station, however. The explosion was associated with a leak somewhere between the launch abort system and the orbital maneuvering system so that the area has been redesigned.

Demo-2 crew testing the emergency escape system.

Initially, the SpaceX thought of using the Super Draco engines to retro-propulsively land the spacecraft on the ground, similar to how SpaceX lands Falcon-9 boosters. Due to the human carrying component, and the unreliability of the Super Draco for landing, this plan was later canceled.

Testing is crucial, especially as the Crew Dragon's parachutes and propulsion system had some issues earlier this year. This was due to an explosion with the Super Draco engines. "I was getting a lot of calls from the media about this event, and so we just sent a tweet and said, look, we look forward to this, this is exciting, but at the same time we expect our contractors to be as committed to the programs that the American taxpayer has invested in", Bridenstine said.

Bridenstine's later retweet indirectly emphasized that it was not a shot at SpaceX, but rather his desire to see contracted companies meet the government deadlines.

"We've launched [cargo] to International Space Station 19 times", Musk said.

These include a high-altitude test of an in-flight abort system created to propel the crew capsule to safety in the event of a rocket failure on the way to orbit.

Crew Dragon aims to ferry a maximum of seven people to the International Space Station (ISS) and other destinations.

Boeing's Starliner might never reach the stars.

"If everything goes according to plan, it would be the first quarter of next year".

Boeing is way behind schedule, with Starliner still pending a launch test, pad abort, etc.