SpaceX boost: Elon Musk says all systems go for crucial Space Dragon mission

The craft will be mounted on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and launched into orbit to test its In-Flight Abort (IFA) functions – the last hurdle it needs to clear before a manned flight. If all goes to plan, it would be a remarkable turnaround after disaster struck in April, when the capsule erupted into flames as a result of an IFA error.

Responding to questions on Twitter, Mr Musk replied: “For what it’s worth, the SpaceX schedule, which I’ve just reviewed in depth, shows Falcon & Dragon at the Cape & all testing done in ~10 weeks.”

He had earlier tweeted: “All hardware is at the Cape.

“Need to do static fire and reconfigure for flight. Launch probably late Nov/early Dec.”

Mr Musk is today opening up his private rocket factory to the top official of NASA on Thursday for a tour and progress report on the Crew Dragon.

NASA is paying SpaceX and Boeing Co £5.5million ($6.8 billion) to build rocket-and-capsule systems to return astronauts to the ISS, a £80billion ($100 billion) orbital research laboratory that flies about 250 miles above Earth, from US soil for the first time since America’s space shuttle program ended in 2011.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will visit SpaceX headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, with a joint news conference slated for 2pm local time (10pm GMT).

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However, the two appear to have settled their difference, with Mr Bridenstine saying they had spoken on the phone after the exchange.

He tweeted: “I’m looking forward to visiting @SpaceX in Hawthorne next Thursday. More to come soon!”

Apart from a display of unity, SpaceX and NASA are expected to update journalists on the Crew Dragon launch schedule and technical difficulties, including concerns over parachutes and an investigation after the explosion and fire earlier this year.

Both the Boeing and SpaceX capsules have been beset by delays and testing mishaps which have prevented either company from achieving goals for manned orbital missions in 2019.

SpaceX successfully launched an unpiloted Crew Dragon in March to the ISS, although the date for its debut manned mission has up to know been uncertain.

NASA has stopped providing scheduling updates until it names a new associate administrator of human spaceflight operations, agency spokesman Matthew Rydin said.

Industry sources suggest the first Starliner manned mission is unlikely to happen before 2020.

With no current means of flying astronauts into orbit from

US soil, NASA has been paying Russia about £64million ($80 million) per ticket for rides to the space station.

NASA said earlier this year it was considering paying for two more seats to the space station for this fall and the Spring of 2020 to ensure US access.