After successfully completing Dragon Crew escape tests at the weekend, the plan for SpaceX to launch crewed missions this year is moving along smoothly.
So much so in fact that CEO Elon Musk held a post-event press conference to confirm that the company aims to launch a crew mission to the International Space Space Station (ISS), before the midway point of 2020.
More specifically he noted that it would be in Q2 of this year, placing it somewhere between an April and June period, although an exact date has not been mentioned at this stage.
“We’re highly confident the hardware will be ready in Q1, most likely in February but no later than March,” said Musk.
As with all estimates for projects of this scale, it’s important to keep in mind that dates change, and if SpaceX has to do more testing to ensure its Dragon crew is as safe as possible, that’s a necessary step that must be taken.
Regardless of when the company aims to send a crew into orbit though, this forthcoming mission (called Demo-2) would be the most significant that SpaceX has undertaken to date, especially as Musk has not held back in laying out his lofty ambitions for the firm.
Shifting back to Demo-2, along with heading to the ISS, NASA says the mission could run longer than expected depending on what both firms plans are.
“If it’s going to be a longer duration, then we have to have some additional training for our astronauts to actually be prepared to do things on the International Space Station that we weren’t planning to have that initial test crew necessarily do. So we’ve got to look at that and make a determination,” NASA administrator added Bridenstine.
With both organisations working closely together on projects at the moment, it will be interesting to see if SpaceX will form a part of NASA’s next Lunar mission. Also intriguing is how the two will collaborate when SpaceX begins to do some serious exploration of its own.
While we wait for SpaceX’s first crew mission to launch, watch the latest escape test video below.