‘Time to deliver’ Elon Musk? NASA nervous as spaceship delays threaten to cut off astronauts from ISS

With NASA’s contract with Russia about to run out without a replacement spaceship ready, the US space agency is leaning on SpaceX to hurry up and deliver. CEO Elon Musk says everything is on schedule – but is it? Since the Space Shuttle program was scrapped in 2011, NASA has had no crewed spaceship capability, having to pay Roscosmos $80 million a seat to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX and Boeing were both contracted to develop a domestic alternative, but both the Crew Dragon and the Starliner have yet to get beyond the testing stage.This is a problem for the US space agency, as the last contracted flight is scheduled for March 2020 launch and October return. After that, there is nothing – and it’s making NASA nervous.> For what it’s worth, the SpaceX schedule, which I’ve just reviewed in depth, shows Falcon & Dragon at the Cape & all testing done in ~10 weeks> > — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 8, 2019 “Full panic” is how one reporter described the mood at the US space agency, prompting Musk to respond on Twitter that the Crew Dragon should be deployed at Cape Canaveral and have “all testing done in about ten weeks.” “We had to reallocate some resources to speed this up,” Musk added, going into a digression about new parachutes for the capsule before adding that all “hardware is at the Cape.” The launch would probably happen in late November or early December, he said.Musk’s Cargo Dragon capsules have been resupplying the ISS since 2012, but making the leap to the crew version has proven challenging. The Crew Dragon looked promising all the way up to April, when it exploded during a test of the emergency response system’s abort engines. Also on Crewed flight ...Read more

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