After a series of stunning successes, SpaceX is working with NASA to finalize preparations to launch humans into space from Florida once again. The last time a person was launched into space from the United States was on July 8, 2011; that final Space Shuttle flight ended America’s capability of bringing people into space. Since then, Americans have relied on Russian spacecraft to shuttle passengers back/forth from the International Space Station an Earth.
The reliance on Russian rockets is about to end. SpaceX and Boeing have each been working on spacecraft vehicles that can send people into space and back from American soil. While Boeing encountered a significant setback with their test vehicle in December, SpaceX has successfully completed their tests and is nearly ready to launch astronauts into space.
SpaceX’s vehicle, The Crew Dragon, undergoing final testing and checkouts in Florida before its departure from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it’ll launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard. SpaceX released a photograph of the spacecraft once it arrived in Florida; if things continue to progress satisfactorily, the Dragon will head into space in about 2-3 months with Behnken and Hurley on-board a test-flight.
After Behnken and Hurley’s test human flight returns OK, regular crewed flights will be scheduled with departures to the International Space Station from Florida’s NASA Kennedy’s spaceport. While the cargo Dragon can carry 7,291 pounds of cargo to the ISS today, the Crew Dragon will be able to fly up to 7 astronauts to the ISS. Even with the added capacity, NASA has only booked 4 seats per launch for their future missions.