Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
by Douglas MessierManaging Editor
What a difference a few phone calls make.
A couple of weeks ago, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk were sniping at each other in public over the company’s commitment — or lack thereof — to completing development and testing of the Crew Dragon spacecraft designed to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
But, after a series of phone calls, it was all smiles on Thursday as the two men put on a united front while providing a status update on the program at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Here is what we learned:
NASA and SpaceX are in agreement that there’s no higher priority than restoring U.S. human launch capability;critical testing lies ahead for Crew Dragon’s parachutes and propulsion system, with more delays possible;a first quarter 2020 crewed flight to ISS is iff and would rely on everything going very smoothly; NASA is still searching for someone to oversee its human spaceflight programs on a permanent basis; and,SpaceX’s Starship is just all right with Jim.
Bridenstine and Musk were joined by astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will fly the first crewed flight ...