NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing with the huge commercial contracts to support space exploration. SpaceX are hoping its first manned flight will go ahead this year despite reports one of the Crew Dragon pods last month exploded during a test – something the company dismissed as an “anomaly”. However, the US Air Force has the ultimate power to delay a launch, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The military reportedly keeps a close eye on launches which are carrying national security assets including satellites.
Brigadier General Douglas Schiess, the Air Force commander running the unit, told the paper the military have the ultimate power to intervene if they believe procedure isn’t been properly followed.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “We have enlisted officer personnel that know what’s supposed to take place as they prep the rocket and the satellite, and they’re overseeing that.
“They can stop the operation and say, ‘Hang on a second, I believe you were supposed to do this. Let’s talk about that before we go on.’”
Commander Lt Col Michael Thompson explained the military wouldn’t oversee SpaceX forever.
He said the Air Force want to set an example for commercial companies that aren’t able to do it for themselves yet.
He said: “NASA’s job is to make sure that the commercial providers are finding people to do as much as possible, so that when they do start putting tourists in space, there’s an infrastructure, there’s knowledge, there’s experience in this mission to go do it on the civilian side.”
SpaceX are on track to launch their first manned mission after five successful tests despite setbacks.
The company has suffered a reported explosion and lost one vehicle in rough seas.
SpaceX and Boeing hope to send astronauts into space from the US for the first time since 2011.
If successful, the companies plan to offer seats to tourists.
Lt Col Dave Mahan, part of Thompson’s astronaut rescue unit, told the Daily Telegraph: “We’ll be going to Mars. We’ll be going back to the Moon. I absolutely see us doing that.
“I keep telling my kids, ‘You’re at the age that you’ll be the ones doing it. So I’ll make sure it’s safe, and you can do something cool.’”