LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – SpaceX Chief Government Elon Musk unfolded his deepest rocket manufacturing facility to the stay legitimate of NASA on Thursday for a tour and development say on the firm’s long-delayed Crew Dragon astronaut capsule.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX proprietor and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks right by a conversation with legendary recreation clothier Todd Howard (no longer pictured) on the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The National Aeronautics and House Administration is paying industrial originate contractors SpaceX and Boeing Co (BA.N) $6.8 billion to originate rocket-and-capsule methods to return astronauts to the Global House Situation from U.S. soil for the principle time since The US’s role shuttle program ended in 2011.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s focus on to to SpaceX headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne and a joint news convention slated for the afternoon come as SpaceX works to beat key technical challenges on the Crew Dragon.

It also follows a rare public spat over the final two weeks between Musk and the NASA chief, who bristled at Musk on Twitter for celebrating an unrelated milestone done on SpaceX’s deep-role Starship rocket whereas completion of the Crew Dragon project remained delayed.

“It’s time to inform,” Bridenstine stated.

Musk fleet shot relief right by a series of interviews after his Starship match, at one level citing a rival NASA moon rocket dubbed the House Start Plot that is years in the relief of agenda and billions of bucks over budget. He also told CNN “most of the work” left to entire on Crew Dragon changed into connected to “a long series of safety opinions” by NASA.

Musk then tweeted on Tuesday that testing for Crew Dragon could be done in 10 weeks, a audacious enlighten given NASA’s construct and safety considerations, some of which had been first detailed by Reuters earlier this twelve months. SpaceX has also never flown humans into orbit, most effective cargo.

Rather than a show of team spirit, SpaceX and NASA are expected to give an update on Thursday on the Crew Dragon originate agenda and technical difficulties, at the side of considerations over parachutes and an investigation into an explosion right by a capsule ground take a look at in April.

Every the Boeing and SpaceX capsules had been beset by delays and testing mishaps which enjoy avoided either firm from achieving targets for manned orbital missions in 2019.

RACE TO THE STATION

SpaceX efficiently launched an unpiloted Crew Dragon in March to the Global House Situation, a $100 billion orbital learn laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, though the date for its debut manned mission stays perilous after repeated slips.

NASA has stopped offering scheduling updates until it names a brand original partner administrator of human spaceflight operations, agency spokesman Matthew Rydin stated.

NASA and SpaceX enjoy had a strained relationship now and then in contemporary times. SpaceX’s upward thrust to change into a dominant originate services provider over the final decade has been fueled in fragment by NASA contracts and the agency’s transformative technique to gain services from deepest firms reasonably than proudly owning the skills itself.

The tip executive for Boeing’s rival Starliner program, John Mulholland, told a convention on Wednesday that a key take a look at of an abort system that propels astronauts to safety right by an emergency changed into slated for Nov. 4, whereas its unpiloted orbital take a look at flight changed into put for Dec. 17.

Beneath that time-frame, the principle Starliner manned mission is all nonetheless particular to scoot into 2020.

FILE PHOTO: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to media right by a focus on to to NASA’s Michoud Meeting Facility the assign engineers are preparing so that you simply’ll want to add the final fragment to the core stage of the rocket that can energy NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission, in Unique Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Without a recent technique of flying astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil, NASA has been paying Russia about $80 million per stamp for rides to the role spot.

Four days after Musk and Bridenstine in the beginning exchanged public criticism, Bridenstine stated on Twitter that the two spoke by cell phone, which gave the impression to open the door for Thursday’s focus on to.

“I’m taking a survey forward to visiting @SpaceX in Hawthorne next Thursday,” Bridenstine stated on Twitter. “Extra to come relief soon!”

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Writing and extra reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Extra reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Paul Tait and Rosalba O’Brien