SpaceX Will Fly Astronauts Before Boeing

Greg Lawrence
August 3, 2018

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to launch humans on USA -built spaceships from Kennedy Space Center on test flights to the space station.

Under the new schedule, SpaceX will fly an uncrewed demonstration mission in November 2018, three months later than the previous schedule released by NASA early this year.

NASA astronaut Eric Boe, one of four astronauts working with the agency's Commercial Crew Program, had the opportunity to check out the Crew Access Tower at Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V on the pad.

However, as the Inquisitr reported earlier today, Boeing has just announced it will be delaying the entire launch schedule of its Starliner spacecrafts, aiming for a first crewed test flight in mid-2019.

The space agency also confirmed Boeing's plan to put off its first crewed space taxi mission until mid-2019, and geared up to announce who'd be on the first space taxi flights for SpaceX's Crew Dragon as well as Boeing's Starliner. They're both the result of NASA's Commercial Crew Program: a almost 10-year-long, $8-billion effort to maintain access to orbit for U.S. astronauts.

The crew for Boeing's Crew Flight Test and SpaceX's Demo-2 flights will each include at least a flight commander and pilot aboard to test out the systems.

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Both Boeing and SpaceX are building spaceships to transport astronauts and restore U.S. access to the space station, a capacity lost when the shuttle program was retired in 2011, as planned after 30 years of operation.

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The Crew Dragon and Starliner will drive the American astronauts on the American-made spaceship from American soil to the ISS for the foremost instance since NASA withdrew its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

"And NASA will be the anchor tenant", said scientist in residence John Charles at Space Center Houston.

Who might get to fly these historic private space missions? If history is any guide, the crews taking the spotlight on Friday will have even more time to train. However, Boeing announced Wednesday a delay for its first crewed launch.

Among the options being considered by NASA is to use the crewed flight test as a crew rotation flight by adding a third astronaut to the mission and extending its stay from two weeks to as long as six months. The idea is that other customers will emerge and the company will have a profitable business that does not rely exclusively on government contracts. Both will be starting to show off their capsules with uncrewed flight tests by the end of the year. Starliner and Crew Dragon will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before returning the crew safely home. "The result is that we'll have a better and safer spacecraft", he said. The company said it has identified the root cause of that incident and will make both operational and technical changes to ensure the valves close properly in the future.

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