Sitting on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, the Crew Dragon spacecraft is perched on a Falcon 9 and is now being prepped for an unmanned test flight that will bring it closer to actually carrying passengers.
"About a month left before the first orbital test flight of the manned Dragon", Musk wrote on Twitter. Around 90 percent of all NASA employees have been furloughed in the shutdown, slowing down the Agency's actions to a crawl.
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. Its CST-100 Starliner is scheduled to make its first uncrewed test flight in March and then a crewed test flight in August. Like the previous version, Dragon-2 will be displayed on the orbit by carrier rocket Falcon 9.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon was developed as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program which aims to end the space agency's dependence on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS.
If all goes well with the uncrewed test, SpaceX will launch its first crewed flight with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
Both SpaceX and Boeing are working on their crew capsules that will take USA astronauts to the International Space Station.
New SpaceX photos show the first Crew Dragon attached to its rocket in their hangar at Launch Pad 39A, as well as rolling out to the pad, standing upright in launch position and sitting within reach of the company's sleek white and black crew access arm.
Since the retirement of the space shuttle almost eight years ago, NASA has bought expensive rides on Russian rockets. NASA will be able to send astronauts to the International Space Station.
If the uncrewed tests are successful, SpaceX will carry on with the next test flight.