NASA says Boeing, SpaceX could launch astronauts next year
03 August, 2018, 09:00 | Author: Tara Reeves
Although the first crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was supposed to take place either at the end of 2018 or early next year, Boeing won't be ready to fly the first passengers on its state-of-the-art "space taxi" until mid-2019.
NASA is making crew assignments now for the Boeing Crew Flight Test and SpaceX Demo-2 to support flight training as we return to launching our astronauts from American soil.
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Starliner's launch abort system, created to eject the crew pod a safe distance from the rocket in case of an emergency, relies on four engines developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
The Starliner program has completed 80 percent of its testing with "tremendous progress" made as it gets prepared for flight, Mulholland said. ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
NASA's goal in collaborating with Boeing and SpaceX is to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from station on the companies' spacecraft.
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NASA's updated timeline did not provide reasons for the delays. Like many spaceflight programs, development has been slow-going, with milestones regularly delayed.
Now, however, the SpaceX uncrewed flight is scheduled for November 2018 and its crewed successor for April 2019 - edging in front of Boeing's planned launches.
A look at these capsules comes ahead of Friday's Commercial Crew announcement. L-R: Bill Gerstenmaier (NASA), John Mulholland (Boeing), Hans Koenigsmann (SpaceX), Cristina Chaplain (GAO), Pat Sanders (ASAP).
No launch date has been set for NASA's satellite fix demonstration, but the mission is expected to happen between 2020 and 2022. Those engines are created to power up if the launch rocket suffers a mishap and would eject the Starliner crew capsule to a safe distance.
The setback means the first crewed test flight will be pushed back to the middle of 2019, he said.
NASA will announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification mission for both Boeing and SpaceX.
A second round of test flights - manned flights - will follow the inaugural flights.
"Tomorrow we will meet the astronauts who will be the first to fly the CST-100 Starliner".
NASA's Commercial Crew Program, as it's called, will soon launch launch one uncrewed and two crewed test flights of each new spacecraft.
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