Elon Musk called the launch date of Dragon-2 to the ISS

SpaceX Crew Dragon Cape Canaveral January 2019

If all goes to plan, SpaceX will follow Demo-1 flight with unmanned abort tests to demonstrate how it can handle a launch emergency on the pad or in early flight.

No astronauts will be on board for this demonstration mission, but this is the first launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon, a spacecraft that will soon transport astronauts to the International Space Station.

The rocket and astronaut capsule were rolled out to Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A last week. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the launch will take place next month.

On Thursday, Jan. 3, the private spaceflight company released photos of the spaceship on top of its rocket, the Falcon 9.

Since the retirement of the space shuttle almost eight years ago, NASA has bought expensive rides on Russian rockets. A new walkway for astronauts in sleek black and white also made its debut weeks before launch. The agreement in place with Russian Federation will allow NASA to send crew on Soyuz flights in 2019, but the sooner SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner spacecrafts are ready for prime time, the better.

Neither SpaceX nor NASA has announced a schedule change as of this writing.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship is a crewed version of the company's robotic Dragon cargo ships that have been flying since 2010, with NASA resupply missions beginning in 2012. The other company is Boeing, which has its own crewed ship for NASA, called the CST-100 Starliner, that is scheduled to make an uncrewed test flight in March, with crewed flight later this year.

Under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA and industry partners prepare for the next generation of American spacecraft that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station from here, the Space Coast of Florida. Speaking anonymously to Ars, NASA employees said that the sort of hype Musk is building up around even a hypothetical human launch is "not helpful".

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