SpaceX continues to make progress towards launching crews into orbit, but several critical tests remain before those plans can come to fruition. The company is developing the Crew Dragon spacecraft to transport crews to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The United States has not launched humans into orbit since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. Since then, NASA has been relying on the Russian Soyuz rocket and spacecraft to launch American crew members to the International Space Station. This has come at a steep cost – with Russia charging NASA as much as $85 million per seat.
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“We would rather have it be a true partnership where we launch on their rockets, and they launch on our rockets,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, at an event on Oct. 10 at SpaceX’s headquarters.
The Commercial Crew Program has been plagued with delays. When the winning providers were chosen in 2013, the first crewed flights were scheduled for 2017.
However, a lack of funding from Congress in the early years of the program, combined with technical setbacks in recent months, has ...