CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - SpaceX's first crewed launch could happen pretty soon, Elon Musk said in a news conference this weekend.
On Sunday morning, SpaceX completed a successful abort test launch of their Dragon crew capsule. The launch served as one of the final steps before SpaceX and NASA can send astronauts back into space. They simulated what would happen during a disaster, as the Dragon crew capsule separated from the Falcon 9 rocket and deployed parachutes for a gentle splashdown.
Following the launch, SpaceX and NASA held a news conference.
"Without a lot of dedicated people at SpaceX and NASA, this would not have happened," Elon Musk, the chief engineer/designer of SpaceX, said. He and several members of NASA went on to speak about the groundbreaking abort test launch and how this will lead to eventually sending humans back into space. "I'm super fired up. This is great, it's great."
When asked about when the world could expect to see a crewed capsule launch, Musk said that "we were just talking about this in the green room. My guess was that this would be the first question that would be asked."
Musk went on to say that NASA and SpaceX came up with a collective response to this question, which was that "The hardware necessary for the first crewed launch [we believe] will be ready by the end of February. However, there is still a lot of work once the hardware is ready to just cross-check everything. Triple-check, quadruple-check everything again until every stone has been turned over three or four times. And there is also the schedule for getting to the space station because the space station has a lot of things going to it, so when's the right time of this."
He continued to speak, stating that "the collective wisdom at this point is that we will -- we think -- we're highly confident that the hardware will be ready in Q1, most likely the end of February, but no later than March. We think that it appears probable that the first crewed launch will occur in the second quarter."
NASA said that with this though, they need to decide if the first crew will go into space for a short or long duration. If it is the latter, the astronauts will have to do additional training before launch. Decisions on this will be made in the coming weeks, they said.
SpaceX is ahead of their competition as they have already proven the capsule can dock at the ISS and that the Dragon crew capsule can safely separate if a disaster occurs.
Another launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is expected on Tuesday, as the company will send another batch of Starlink communication satellites into space. These satellites help bring internet to less-developed parts of the world. The launch window opens at 11:59 a.m. ET.
Tune in to FOX 35 News as we head into a busy couple of days on Space Coast.