SpaceX's Crew Dragon could launch NASA's astronauts into space as soon as early next year

Commercial Crew Program encourages private companies to develop their own spacecraft to carry human to LOE and the ISS.

After a delay of almost two years, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon might carry its first astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) as soon a January or February of next year.

In an event held at SpaceX’s headquarters in California, NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine and Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO, spoke about the future of Crew Dragon.

According to Space, Bridenstine said, that Crew Dragon is nearly ready after the 2017 deadline could not be met.

He said, "We are getting very close, and we're very confident that, in the first part of next year, we will be ready to launch American astronauts on American rockets.”

The Crew Dragon. Image credit: NASA

The Crew Dragon. Image credit: NASA

The Demo-2 will be the final test flight and will carry two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. They will be overlooking and testing all the equipment in the spacecraft. They will also dock at the international space station to perform tests on the Dragon as well.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program encourages private aerospace companies to develop and operate their own spacecraft that are able to carry human beings to low-earth orbit and the ISS.

NASA has partnered with SpaceX and Boeing who is working on its own private spacecraft – the Starliner.

If all goes smoothly, NASA will be able to decrease its dependence on Russia’s Soyuz rocket to ferry its astronauts to the ISS. NASA used to have its own spacecraft, but it was shut down in 2011.

It’s still left to be seen if SpaceX can keep to this deadline especially since it has had a string of mishaps.

During its Demo-1 test flight, something went wrong with the Dragons' abort engines just before SuperDraco could fire up and the vehicle was destroyed.

There were some problems with the capsule’s parachute system as well and Musk said that they have switched to Mark 3 from Mark 2.

These two issues itself could delay the program but Musk’s eerie line, “There may be other things that we discover” has left us wondering, what’s in store for the Dragon.

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