SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine assured journalists this afternoon that their partnership to fly NASA astronauts to the space station is still good and that the first crews will be using SpaceX in the first quarter of next year Vehicles could start. This demonstration of strength at SpaceX headquarters is only two weeks after the two characters had exchanged public voices in the press, suggesting friction between SpaceX and NASA.
"Elon and I agree that this is the one thing we have. Development that has the highest priority is to fire American astronauts from American soil on American rockets," Bridenstine said of his visit to SpaceX. "Human spaceflight is why SpaceX was developed, and it's an incredible honor for us to work with NASA," Musk said. "And only to realize this, a dream comes true."
SpaceX is one of two hardware handling companies for NASA astronauts to and from NASA astronauts developing the International Space Station as part of the Space Agency's Commercial Crew Program. Since the Space Shuttle program ended in 201
The Commercial Crew program, however, was plagued by delays. NASA expected the first crews to fly in 2017, but the target data has been repeatedly postponed. In March of this year, SpaceX flew an unscrewed version of its capsule, called Crew Dragon, which successfully docked to the ISS and then returned to Earth. But a month later, the same capsule exploded during a ground test at Cape Canaveral, Florida, leading to further delays and questions about the future of the SpaceX timeline. No one has yet flown with a commercial vehicle of the crew.
Now, both Bridenstine and Musk say that SpaceX is ready to fly depending on how the tests went at the end of the year. "When it comes to these new opportunities for development, I will say that we are very close," said Bridenstine today. "And we are very confident that in the first part of next year we will be ready to fire American astronauts on American rockets."
Bridenstine noted, however, that the timeline could change slightly. "If "Something that we did not know could take longer," he said, "whether we make it in the first half of next year is less relevant than the fact that we can do it."
The optimistic tone contrasts with the tense exchange that took place between Bridenstine and Musk in advance The CEO's Last Keynote On Saturday, September 28, Musk held a grand presentation in Boca Chica, Texas, where he made progress Explained in detail the future Starship rocket of his company, a huge vehicle intended to bring people into space.
On the Friday before the event, Bridenstine tweeted his thoughts on the Up "I'm looking forward to the SpaceX event tomorrow," he wrote in a statement. "In the meantime, Commercial Crew is years behind schedule. NASA expects the same enthusiasm for the investment of the American taxpayer. It is time to deliver. "Criticizing the event at the time was that the celebration of the new rocket was inappropriate when SpaceX had not yet fulfilled its obligations to NASA and made the company's other vehicles fly.
] After his update, Musk shot back at Bridenstine during an interview with CNN. When asked about the administrator's tweet, Musk cheekily replied, "Did he say Commercial Crew or SLS?" Musk also claimed that SpaceX would probably fly its first passengers for the commercial crew program in "three or four months".
Bridenstine scored this rating quickly. In follow-up interviews with CNN and The Atlantic Bridenstine said he did not think it would be a reasonable estimate for three to four months, as SpaceX was struggling with some key areas of development. He also said that Musk's criticism of the SLS was "not helpful".
Today's meeting was a public demonstration of friendliness between Bridenstine and Musk, with Musk making it clear that Crew Dragon has a priority. Even Bridenstine noted that NASA wants Starship to succeed. "We partnered with Starship, a non-money exchange partner, when it comes to aerodynamics and testing and testing facilities," said Bridenstine.