NASA targeting early 2020 for first manned SpaceX mission

NASA targeting early 2020 for first manned SpaceX mission
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NASA Director Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineTrump speaks with NASA astronauts on all-female spacewalk NASA makes historic all-female spacewalk NASA reveals new spacesuits for next moon mission MORE says that the agency could begin using SpaceX equipment for manned orbital missions as early as next year if the company does not run into unexpected hurdles with the development of its crew capsule.

Bridenstine told reporters during a visit to Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskHillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference NASA targeting early 2020 for first manned SpaceX mission Hillicon Valley: Senate Intel report urges action to prevent 2020 Russian meddling | Republicans warn Microsoft of 'urgent' Huawei threat | Court rules FBI surveillance violated Americans' rights MORE's SpaceX headquarters in California that if "everything goes according to plan," the agency will begin manned missions using SpaceX's capsule in the first quarter of 2020.

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“If everything goes according to plan, it would be the first quarter of next year,” he said, according to Reuters, while adding that the agency is "not going to take any undue risk" by sticking to an unrealistic time line.

Musk also addressed reporters at the news conference, explaining that despite difficulties in developing the crew capsule's parachute, the company planned to finish testing by the end of the year.

“Testing will be complete and hardware at the Cape [Canaveral] by the end of December," he said, according to Reuters.

NASA's use of private contractors such as SpaceX for future space flights comes as the agency currently spends millions every year to use Russian technology necessary for reaching the International Space Station.

Bridenstine reportedly indicated at Thursday's press conference that the agency's policy of "buying seats" on Russian spacecraft will continue as a backup strategy in case manufacturing of crew capsules in the U.S. are delayed.