SpaceX could launch its first astronauts in under two months

The company's Crew Dragon is looking to carry humans to orbit from Florida again before Mother's Day.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects, and CNET's "Living off the Grid" series Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read

This SpaceX illustration shows Crew Dragon with its thrusters firing.


It's been nearly a decade since astronauts last began begun a journey to space from American soil, and now SpaceX says they hope to change that this May. 

Elon Musk's rocket company has been working toward launching astronauts to the International Space Station aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA's Commercial Crew program. On Tuesday, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said it's "gunning for May" for the company's first ever launch of humans atop one of its Falcon 9 rockets. 

Shotwell was speaking to reporters Tuesday at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C., CNBC reported. The conference has since been cut short by concerns over coronavirus and closed early on Wednesday.

SpaceX Dragon V2 spacecraft unveiled by Elon Musk (pictures)

See all photos

The pioneering Crew Dragon launch is currently set for May 7 from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, according to industry website SpaceFlight Now. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will make the journey to the ISS aboard the new spaceship, which has already successfully flown to the ISS and back with a dummy aboard.

In his own appearance at Satellite 2020 Monday, Musk said that SpaceX and NASA engineers have put Crew Dragon through a "staggering" amount of testing in preparation for carrying its first crew. 

If it succeeds in May, the Crew Dragon mission will come just as NASA is running out of orbital flights booked on Russian Soyuz vehicles, which have been ferrying astronauts to space ever since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. 

"Why does Soyuz still fly?" Musk asked rhetorically on stage Monday. "It was designed in the 50s... It's a solid vehicle, it's just, like, it's time to move on."

If the remaining testing goes well and NASA signs off, we could finally be moving on to a new era of human spaceflight within about eight weeks.

Watch this: SpaceX's Crew Dragon safely returns to Earth