NASA’s new head of human spaceflight says SpaceX’s Dragon is in good shape

Alan Boyle
NASA’s Kathy Lueders beams with joy as the hatches are opened between SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and the International Space Station on May 31. (NASA Photo / Joel Kowsky)

NASA’s newly named associate administrator for human exploration and operations, Kathy Lueders, says that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule “has been doing great” at the International Space Station — and that the NASA astronauts who rode it to orbit are likely to come back down to Earth in early August.

  • Lueders was selected to become NASA’s head of human spaceflight last week, after shepherding the Crew Dragon mission as the manager of the space agency’s commercial crew program. Now she’ll oversee the space station program and the development of NASA’s Orion deep-space capsule and Space Launch System rocket, as well as the commercial space taxis built by SpaceX and Boeing.
  • One big 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 make the deadline, she said “I don’t have a crystal ball … [but] we’re going to try. Sometimes it’s the trying that gets us closer to the goal than the not trying.”
  • Lueders took over from Doug Loverro, who resigned from NASA last month, reportedly due to a controversy over discussions with Boeing relating to commercial lunar lander contracts. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine cautioned Lueders not to talk about Loverro’s situation in detail, but Lueders said she “appreciated his mentorship” during the six months he spent at the space agency.

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