SpaceX showed off its Crew Dragon capsule and introduced the first four NASA astronauts who will fly in it.
“We are not going to fly until we’re ready to fly these folks safely,” SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell told reporters Monday. She said the company needs “to demonstrate that this vehicle is capable of taking astronauts up from U.S. soil as often as NASA will allow us to do so.”
Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s bid for NASA’s competitive Commercial Crew program — the agency’s solution to once again launch U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil. SpaceX and Boeing won multibillion dollar contracts in 2014 to build and test the capsules. The development period is coming to a close as SpaceX and Boeing prepare for test flights. Elon Musk’s SpaceX anticipates a first flight without crew in November.
NASA announced Aug. 3 the assignments for the first nine astronauts riding commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station, naming five to Boeing flights and four to SpaceX flights.
CNBC took a closer look at several pieces of hardware at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, as well as heard from the four astronauts: Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins. Here’s what we saw and heard: