WASHINGTON — NASA will decide in the coming weeks whether to extend a crewed SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station, a move that could help alleviate a crew time crunch on the station.
A successful in-flight abort test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft Jan. 19 makes it increasingly likely that that the spacecraft will be ready for a crewed test flight, known as Demo-2, this spring. At a post-test news conference, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said it was “probable” that the flight will take place in the second quarter of this year.
On the Demo-2 flight, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly on the Crew Dragon to the ISS. That was originally designed as a short-term mission, on the order of a couple weeks, but NASA is leaving the door open to extending that mission by an unspecified amount.
“Do we want that first crew to be a short duration or do we want it to be a longer duration?” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the briefing immediately after Musk offered his estimate of when the mission would be ready to fly. If NASA decided to extend the Demo-2 mission, he said, the ...