NASA’s new head of human spaceflight says SpaceX’s Dragon is in good shape
NASA's Kathy Lueders is beaming with joy when the hatches between the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and the International Space Station open on May 31. (NASA Photo / Joel Kowsky)
NASA's newly appointed Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Kathy Lueders, says that the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on the International Space Station is "working great" - and that the NASA astronauts who put it into orbit will likely return to Earth in early August.
Lueders was selected to head NASA's human space program last week after leading the Crew Dragon mission as manager of the space agency's commercial crew program. Now she will oversee NASA’s space station program and development of NASA’s Orion space capsule and rocket space launch system, as well as commercial space taxis built by SpaceX and Boeing.
An important item on the agenda is NASA's Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon by 2024. When Lueders was asked during today's briefing whether NASA would meet the deadline, she said, "I don't have a crystal ball ... [but] we'll try. Sometimes it is trying that brings us closer to the goal than not trying. "
Lueders took over Doug Loverro, who had resigned from NASA last month, reportedly due to controversy over talks with Boeing about commercial lunar landing contracts. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine warned Lueders not to go into detail about Loverro's situation, but Lueders said she "appreciated his mentorship" during the six months he spent with the space agency.
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The SpaceX Crew Dragon takes a maiden flight with the robotic driver Ripley
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