NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (center) participates in a Crew Dragon flight simulation at SpaceX’s California headquarters with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is peering over Bridenstine’s shoulder. (NASA Photo / Aubrey Gemignani)
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited SpaceX’s headquarters in California today, for what was seen as an opportunity to smooth over differences and update expectations for SpaceX’s first-ever crewed spaceflight.
Over the past few years, the first flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts aboard has been repeatedly rescheduled, leading to moments of frustration for Bridenstine. But after meeting with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and others at the company’s facilities in Hawthorne, Calif., the NASA chief suggested the goal was in sight.
“If everything goes according to plan, it will be in the first quarter of next year,” Bridenstine told reporters.
He and Musk hastened to add that, when it comes to rocket science, everything doesn’t always go according to plan. Musk acknowledged that he can be overly optimistic about schedule estimates.
“My philosophy is to generally say what we think our best guess is, and then bring people along for the ride,” Musk said. “And then, if things don’t go quite as well as expected, hopefully cheer us on. It’s full disclosure. … Sometimes we’ll be wrong, but I think it’s more interesting to be along for the ride and not try to pretend everything is super-great. There’s always issues. Space is hard, obviously.”
A crewless Crew Dragon spacecraft made a successful practice trip to the space station in March — but that was followed by a setback in April, when the Crew Dragon that was slated for use in an in-flight launch abort test blew up on a test pad.
The accident investigation concluded that there was a leaky …read more