March 10 (UPI) -- SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said Tuesday the company is "gunning" for a May launch of astronauts from Florida, while NASA said only that it hopes for a launch sometime in the second quarter.
SpaceX is poised to be the first private company to fly NASA astronauts. The company's successful in-flight test in January showed that the capsule could carry people to safety in an emergency.
"We're gunning for May. We have work to do. NASA has work to do," Shotwell said at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C., according to CNBC.
The flight would carry astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. The space station has only been accessible to American astronauts through the purchase of seats on Russian capsules since the last shuttle launch in 2011.
"NASA and SpaceX currently are evaluating the launch date for the Demo-2 mission with a crew to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program," according to a NASA statement.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, who also spoke at the conference, said he sometimes fears he won't reach his goal of flying astronauts to Mars in his lifetime unless the current pace of innovation quickens, according to Business Insider.
SpaceX has pioneered the use of reusable rocket boosters, landing them 50 times after launches. Musk has said often that reusability lowers the cost of getting to space, which is necessary for more human exploration.
"Elon Musk is arguably the most disruptive figure in the history of the satellite industry, revolutionizing rocket science and opening up access to space for the entire world," Jeffrey Hill, the satellite conference's chairman, said in a statement.
SpaceX is competing with Boeing to supply astronaut ferry service to the space station. Boeing ran into problems in December with an uncrewed test flight for its Starliner capsule, failing to reach the orbit needed for the rendezvous.
NASA and Boeing have agreed to 61 corrective actions to make before moving ahead with another Starliner mission. NASA has not decided if it will require another test flight before sending astronauts aloft in the Starliner capsule.