Space may be accessible for travelers a whole lot sooner than many have expected. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stopped by SpaceX HQ in California and then did an impromptu session of Q&A with the media while standing next to Elon Musk and two astronauts. The video of the exchange was posted to Bridenstine’s Twitter feed.
Some of the highlights in the Q&A included comments about the Crew Dragon project and the progress made there. The administrator emphasized the need for more testing, and allowed that schedules could change depending on what they find there, but he did say that the capsule could be ready for its first crewed “Demo-2” test flight in Q1 of 2020.
According to innovator Elon Musk, drop tests are about to start and they will evaluate its “Mark 3” parachute design, which has replaced nylon cords with stronger “xylon” material. They also referenced the explosion on the test stand earlier this year, with Bridenstine praising SpaceX’s “fail fast” model. He praised the effort and challenged that they include fixes before rockets actually take flight. Musk agreed, saying that if things don’t fail then you aren’t trying hard enough.
The explosion was apparently related to a leak somewhere between the launch abort system and orbital maneuvering system, so that area has been redesigned.
Everyone involved seems to be closer to the same page than in weeks past, but most will have to wait and see if this gets the Commercial Crew program moving sooner rather than later.
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