(BRIDENSTINE) “As of right now, we are a go for launch.”
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine says the weather, so far, is cooperating for SpaceX’s historic launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday.
That’s when two American astronauts are set to blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center - ending the U.S. space agency’s nine-year hiatus in human spaceflight and the first manned flight by a private company.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will be launched into space from Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule… An event that Bridenstine says is transforming how NASA operate.
"We're transforming how we do spaceflight in general. The commercial crew program is in fact about commercializing lower earth orbit. We've got resupply, now we're going to have crew, soon we are going to have commercial space stations.”
For NASA, SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk - a safe flight would mark a milestone in business-led space travel.
NASA, which is hoping to stimulate a commercial space marketplace, recently awarded $3.1 billion to SpaceX and $4.5 billion to Boeing to develop dueling space capsules.
Then NASA plans buy astronaut seats from the two companies.
(BRIDENSTINE) "NASA will be a customer, we will always, always always be a customer…"(flash) "It’s how we are going to get to the moon and onto Mars. If we keep developing, using American taxpayer dollars, to develop capabilities in lower earth orbit, we’ll never get to the moon and onto Mars. That’s what this program is all about. It’s about commercialization…”
SpaceX successfully tested Crew Dragon without astronauts last year in its first orbital mission to the space station. That vehicle was destroyed the following month during a ground test when one of the valves for its abort system burst, causing an explosion that triggered a nine-month engineering investigation that ended in January.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to attend Wednesday’s launch.
But NASA says no matter who is watching - it reserves the right to cancel the launch at the last minute if conditions are deemed unsafe.