It's been nearly a decade since astronauts last began begun a journey to space from American soil, and now SpaceX says they hope to change that this May.
Elon Musk's rocket company has been working toward launching astronauts to the International Space Station aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA's Commercial Crew program. On Tuesday, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said it's "gunning for May" for the company's first ever launch of humans atop one of its Falcon 9 rockets.
Shotwell was speaking to reporters Tuesday at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C., CNBC reported. The conference has since been cut short by concerns over coronavirus and closed early on Wednesday.
SpaceX Dragon V2 spacecraft unveiled by Elon Musk (pictures) 16 Photos
The pioneering Crew Dragon launch is currently set for May 7 from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, according to industry website SpaceFlight Now. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will make the journey to the ISS aboard the new spaceship, which has already successfully flown to the ISS and back with a dummy aboard.
In his own appearance at Satellite 2020 Monday, Musk said that SpaceX and NASA engineers have put Crew Dragon through a "staggering" amount of testing in preparation for carrying its first crew.
If it succeeds in May, the Crew Dragon mission will come just as NASA is running out of orbital flights booked on Russian Soyuz vehicles, which have been ferrying astronauts to space ever since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
"Why does Soyuz still fly?" Musk asked rhetorically on stage Monday. "It was designed in the 50s… It's a solid vehicle, it's just, like, it's time to move on."
If the remaining testing goes well and NASA signs off, we could finally be moving on to a new era of human spaceflight within about eight weeks.