NASA confirms delays in Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew flights

Month NASA Will Be Declaring Crew Members For SpaceX And Boeing

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems created to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit.

The first two on the list were initially slated for this summer, but a technical failure experienced during a recent test forced Boeing to revise the entire schedule until that problem is fixed. Boeing's Starliner spacecraft will blast off atop United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, while SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will travel on the company's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

These astronauts will be the first to launch on vehicles owned by commercial companies.

SpaceXNASA astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams tests mock-ups of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship and spacesuit.

An artist's conception shows SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship docking with the International Space Station, plus a cargo-carrying version of the Dragon in the foreground.

NASA's schedule for Starliner flights confirmed what a Boeing executive said a day earlier: The first uncrewed mission to the station (Boeing Orbital Flight Test) would take place in late 2018 or early 2019, and the first crewed mission (Boeing Crew Flight Test) would follow five to six months later.

NASA estimates have predicted even greater delays than what the agency formally announced August 2.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make the announcement at 11 a.m.at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The announcement is a big deal because the last American crew-carrying spacecraft - NASA's fleet of four space shuttle orbiters - retired in July 2011.

NASA said SpaceX was now aiming to conduct an uncrewed demonstration flight of its upgraded Dragon capsule in November, known as SpaceX Demo-1. After that, the companies will become eligible for many years' and billions of dollars' worth of future NASA missions.

NASA will announce on Friday, Aug. 3, the astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon, and begin a new era in American spaceflight.

However, both companies still have to prove that their vehicles can fly to the ISS and return safely to Earth.

"During the startup of that test, all engines responded nominally", said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's commercial crew programs, during a conference call.

NASA astronauts will soon have some pretty comfortable seats when they fly the commercial spacecraft being built by SpaceX and Boeing.

The setback means the first crewed test flight will be pushed back to the middle of 2019, he said. It'll be equipped with four windows providing astronauts with breathtaking views of the Earth, our moon and the solar system.

NASA's updated timeline did not provide reasons for the delays.

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