SpaceX founder Elon Musk said this weekend that the company is about one month away from launching the first Crew Dragon spacecraft on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, a precursor to a demonstration launch with astronauts later this year. He also warned that early test flights of the commercial crew capsule, built under contract to NASA, will be “especially dangerous.”
SpaceX teams at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California are preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit Monday, powered by a reused first stage booster flying on its third mission, a first for the company as engineers continue chasing a long-term goal of re-flying the same rocket on back-to-back days.
Promising to take a half-dozen or more artists with him on the journey, Japanese fashion magnate Yusaku Maezawa said Monday he has paid a deposit for a ride around the moon aboard SpaceX’s planned BFR rocket as soon as 2023, a financial infusion that will help bankroll development of the company’s futuristic interplanetary transporter.
A year-and-a-half after announcing plans to launch two private citizens on a flight around the moon using the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket and Dragon capsule, SpaceX posted a tweet late Thursday announcing apparently revised plans to launch a “private passenger” on a moon flight using SpaceX’s new BFR rocket.
SpaceX is still working on a new, safer helium tank design needed for launches with astronauts, and the debut of the company’s upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket earlier this month did not count as one of seven successful missions in “crew configuration” NASA says it requires before putting astronauts aboard the vehicle, officials said Thursday.
A team of SpaceX engineers is building a prototype of the spaceship Elon Musk hopes will one day carry people and cargo deep into the solar system, and it could begin low-altitude testing next year, kicking off a multi-step test campaign before eventually going into space, then perhaps the moon or Mars.