NASA administrator explains Twitter spat with SpaceX

Yolanda Curtis
October 11, 2019

SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut capsule will be ready for its first manned test flight into orbit in the first quarter of next year, provided that "everything goes according to plan" in upcoming tests, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Thursday.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently announced that a key Crew Dragon safety test could take place as early as November.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we can't get it wrong", Bridenstine said. "But remember - and this is the important thing that we have to get right on messaging - there are still things that we can learn or could learn that could be challenging that we have to resolve".

NASA wants private American vehicles to end this dependence and has been encouraging their development via its Commercial Crew Program.

American astronauts have had to rely exclusively on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to and from orbit since July 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle fleet.

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley stood next to the pair as they addressed a crowd at the SpaceX headquarters. It's time to deliver. "I think a lot of people don't realize that we've done that 19 times".


SpaceX has so far never flown humans into orbit, only cargo. "We're honored to partner with NASA and make this happen", he said. "It's truly a dream come true".

"Now there's a few less valves, which is good, because it's going to prevent these kinds of errors", Bridenstine said, turning toward Musk. But they said up to 10 tests of new parachutes will happen over the coming months, and they hope for a crewed flight in early 2020.

Both companies have seen their share of setbacks with regard to their independent commercial crew programs, but SpaceX's Crew Dragon has already made an uncrewed trip to the International Space Station, and Boeing is playing catch-up.

Today's meeting came two weeks after Bridenstine set off a mini-tempest on the eve of SpaceX's unveiling of a Starship prototype rocket in Texas.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is paying commercial launch contractors SpaceX and Boeing Co $6.8 billion to build rocket-and-capsule systems to return astronauts to the International Space Station from USA soil for the first time since America's space shuttle program ended in 2011.

Musk mercurial shot relieve at some stage in a series of interviews, at one point citing a rival NASA moon rocket dubbed the Arena Open Machine that is years in the relieve of agenda and billions of bucks over budget.


In their joint appearance Thursday, both men referenced their exchange, and said the safety of the astronauts is their top priority as they pursue return to USA human spaceflight. "And lots of our packages that not been assembly prices and schedules".

NASA said earlier this year it was considering paying for two more seats to the space station for this fall and the spring of 2020 to ensure US access. But Bridenstine added that NASA is fully supportive of SpaceX's Starship project. He said the goal is to "ensure that American astronauts will be safe".

"The partnership with Russian Federation is important and it's good", he said.

Whereas Musk and Bridenstine supplied few concrete particulars on their joint investigation into an explosion throughout a capsule floor check in April, Musk stated incidents had been inevitable throughout advanced improvement processes and rigorous testing.

Musk responded during his Starship reveal that SpaceX resources are overwhelmingly focused on the Dragon crew capsule and the Falcon rocket that will launch it.


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