SpaceX may launch US astronauts to the International Space Station next year if Dragon capsule tests are successful. NASA administrator Jim Bridensen made such a statement on his Twitter.
“If everything goes according to plan, then we can launch the device in the first quarter of next year. But remember, and this is the most important, there are still many problems that we must solve to ensure the safety of our astronauts” – Bridensen said.
Ahead of our in-flight abort test for @Commercial_Crew—which will demonstrate Crew Dragon's ability to safely carry astronauts away from the rocket in the unlikely event of an emergency—our team has completed over 700 tests of the spacecraft's SuperDraco engines pic.twitter.com/nswMPCK3F9
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 12, 2019
The capsule was supposed to provide transportation of astronauts to the space station for the first time since the end of the American Space Shuttle program in 2011. Since the completion of this program, NASA has had to rely on Russia to transport astronauts to and from the space station at a cost of $8.5 million per seat. Now the agency is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to complete this task.