SpaceX's Dragon Capsule Not Yet Ready To Send Austronauts To Space Until 2018
SpaceX recently confirmed that they could not meet their deadline by 2017 to send the first astronauts into space. SpaceX rescheduled the flight of the first crew of Dragon capsule from August 2017 to May 2018. But before the real flight of the crew, SpaceX will first conduct a demonstration mission of Crew Dragon that won't involve any astronauts.
A spokesperson for Elon Musk's company said in an emailed statement, "We are carefully assessing our designs, systems, and processes taking into account the lessons learned and corrective actions identified. Our schedule reflects the additional time needed for this assessment and implementation." Boeing also confirmed earlier this year that due to some technical difficulties, it wouldn't be sending astronauts into space until 2018.
Back in September 2014, NASA selected both Boeing and SpaceX to supply transport options to launch and return astronauts to and from the Internation Space Station(ISS). NASA will keep its goal to have a safe, reliable and cost-effective access for ISS missions. But unfortunately for SpaceX's Dragon system, it already caused some issue before its launch pad tragedy is September.
Since the explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket in September, SpaceX has been grounded. But the company currently is doing its best to resume launching in January. On the other hand, Boeing is already building a new capsule called the CST-100 Starliner.
For now, NASA must rely on Russia a little bit longer since Russia's Soyuz rocket is the only transport that can take astronauts to the ISS. It'll be an expensive way to get humans to space since a single seat on the Soyuz costs NASA around $81 million. That's a scary investment but NASA doesn't have any option for now.
SpaceX claims that they are working with NASA to make sure that fueling process will be safe and reliable. And it will make any adjustment with its method if needed for the crew's safety. Despite all the issues, SpaceX announced that they already completed some achievements for its updated Dragon capsule like parachute tests, qualification tests, and more.