Elon Musk-led SpaceX will make all-out efforts to make the NASA partnered space capsule Crew Dragon launch-ready by early 2020. This was stated by CEO Elon Musk who also said the project also led to substantial expenditure from his company.

Crew Dragon aims to ferry a maximum of seven people to the International Space Station (ISS) and other destinations.

The delay on SpaceX launch of Crew Dragon was in the limelight recently after NASA’s chief voiced his exasperation and decided to visit SpaceX headquarters for a review, per NASA news.

On Thursday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk alongside NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a briefing that his company also put a “substantial sum of money” to build and test the spacecraft.

Bridenstine visited the SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne along with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

According to Space X news, Musk explained how SpaceX pumped millions of dollars as extra funding into the Spacecraft’s development beyond the $2.6 billion awarded by NASA in 2014.

Elon Musk noted: “We’ve spent, I think, quite a lot more than expected – probably on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars more.”

Crew Dragon is of highest priority, says NASA chief

In his remarks, the NASA chief Bridenstine pointed to the importance of the crew launch mission.

Jim said both he and Musk agree that the commercial launch of American astronauts is of “highest priority” among all the projects his agency and SpaceX are undertaking.

Crew Dragon is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program aiming to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil once again.

The Space Shuttle program of NASA ended in 2011. Since then U.S astronauts had been flying to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. But the current situation calls for NASA to rely on its vehicle as the Russian rocket also retired and there is a delay in the new Russian rocket to be ready.  

Bridenstine’s sounded “very confident that we will be able to launch American astronauts on American rockets,” and it could take place in the first quarter of 2020.

Musk also hinted that the project's delay was tied to a pruned NASA budget at the government level and had affected the progress of the Commercial Crew program.  (L-R) NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, and astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken speaking during a news conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019 (L-R) NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, and astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken speaking during a news conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019 Photo: www.philippachecophoto.com / Philip Pacheco

Bridenstine also endorsed Musk’s point that the Commercial Crew program did face setbacks from skewed funding.

Some years set us back because we weren’t adequately funded, Bridenstine added.

Drop tests crucial to launch readiness says Musk

Meanwhile, Musk said the Crew Dragon launch system’s reliability for crewed mission needs at least 10 continual drop tests on the new Mark 3 parachute system.

Bridenstine said the current schedule could allow SpaceX to do all drop tests using the Mark 3 between now and the end of this year.