SpaceX Will Conduct Crewed Missions To Low-Earth Orbit In 2015
According to the recent report in the Orlando Sentinel, SpaceX plans to conduct crewed missions to low-Earth orbit in 2015. SpaceX project manager and former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman said, that SpaceX was hoping to send a capsule carrying its own selected astronauts—not the U.S. space agency’s—on a three-day demonstration flight in low-Earth orbit, though they do not sell tickets for the proposed Dragon test flight. Boeing, the main SpaceX competitor the United Launch Alliance (ULA), is planning to conduct its own manned demo flight for NASA in 2016. Last year Robert Stevens, the outgoing CEO at Boeing’s ULA partner Lockheed Martin, claimed SpaceX to be inexperienced in conducting space missions. SpaceX successfully docked its Dragon capsule with the ISS in a May trial mission, but one of the Merlin engines on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket shut down during the October flight and this occurrence raised concerns about SpaceX’s ability to safely transport humans into orbit. SpaceX has much to prove to NASA before the space agency signs off on manned missions conducted by the commercial venture, the first of which would likely be trips to the ISS. Anyways, NASA commercial crew program director Ed Mango said they were supporting both the proposed SpaceX and Boeing demonstration flights.