SpaceX founder Elon Musk has confirmed that the Crew Dragon spacecraft being built for NASA is progressing well and it hopes to fly astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station in another three months.

NASA has been under pressure as the delay in Crew Dragon has started affecting its timeline of sending astronauts to the ISS.

Now NASA's options include buying additional Russian Soyuz seats for missions to the ISS in 2020. But that is not looking viable as the new Russian spacecraft will take time to fly.

Recently NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine urged the SpaceX chief to expedite Crew Dragon and voiced frustration that the project is hugely delayed.

The NASA boss will be visiting the SpaceX facility on Thursday for an assessment of the project and discuss the path forward, per SpaceX news.   

In a twitter post, Musk gave the new updates while replying to another tweet that said: “full panic” prevails at NASA headquarters as the agency has limited options such as buying costly seats or deferring crew missions.

According to Musk both the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon vehicle for the in-flight abort test has reached Cape Canaveral, Florida.

After the hardware is configured, the test flight may occur toward the end of November or early December.

Before a crewed mission SpaceX launch showing the in-flight abort capabilities of the Dragon spacecraft is important. There was a case of rocket failure already when the spacecraft's Super Draco thrusters gutted.

Important tests to be conducted

The test assumes significance because of the explosion of a Crew Dragon spacecraft during thruster tests in April. The dragon was destroyed before its SuperDraco thrusters were fired.

Both SpaceX and NASA claim they understand the cause and have implemented changes to prevent its recurrence.

After fixing the issue with thrusters, SpaceX has to attend the parachute system which also had a couple of failures during the drop tests with its four-parachute system.

SpaceX is aiming to balance the robustness of the parachute system while keeping the mass lower.

“I was at their Irvine factory with the SpaceX team on Sat and Sun. We’re focusing on the advanced Mk3 chute, which provides the highest safety factor for astronauts,” Musk added.

The SpaceX CEO expressed the confidence that both the rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the company's launch facilities in Florida within 10 weeks. Within that time, all testing on hardware could be done.  spaceX Pictured is the exterior of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California as seen on July 22, 2018. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Mars exploration data

Meanwhile, NASA Mars Curiosity rovers found an ancient oasis on Mars dotting the floor of Gale Crater which is a 100-mile-wide ancient basin that the Curiosity has explored.

The landscape was described by Curiosity scientists in a Nature Geoscience paper recently. The authors interpreted the rocks discovered by the NASA Mars rover.

Enriched in mineral salts, the rocks, per the authors as evidence of shallow briny ponds that went through transformations of overflow and drying.

The deposits were watermarks created by climate fluctuations as the Martian environment moved from a wetter one to the freezing desert as of today.

Upcoming findings from Curiosity in the “sulfate-bearing unit” which is a dry area will offer new insights on the oasis formation and the causative factors, per NASA news.

New information on the structure and interior of Mars terrain has expanded the interest of the scientific world and public over the Red Planet and Mars news is becoming as staple as Bruno Mars.