Friday, 22 February, 2019

NASA, SpaceX Aims For March Test Of 1st New Astronaut Capsule

Test Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket View Slideshow Test Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket NASA
Doris Mccormick | 09 February, 2019, 20:55

NASA announced Wednesday that the first uncrewed test launches of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship and Boeing's Starliner have been pushed back yet again. All problems were solved, and SpaceX is ready to finally launch the Crew Dragon for the first test flight.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX's planned test flight of a capsule created to carry astronauts to the International Space Station was pushed back Wednesday by a week, with NASA officials saying liftoff is now set for March 2.

In another shift, Boeing's first Starliner launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V will happen no earlier than April, according to the updated timeline.

While the schedule for the crewed test flights are little changed from previous schedules, there's an expectation in the industry that those dates, too, will slip depending on when the uncrewed test flights take place and their outcomes.

Crew Dragon's crew-carrying demonstration is now scheduled for July, and Starliner's for no earlier than August, according to the new NASA update.

It will also be the first time in history a privately-built spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station.

Boeing Starliner Capsule
View Slideshow Boeing Starliner Capsule NASA

The Crew Dragon will blast off towards the ISS for two weeks in a bid to prove its reliability and safety in carrying astronauts into space. Launch of the unpiloted test flight is now targeted for March 2.

"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".

The overall commercial crew program has suffered extensive delays.

The date to resuming launches of US astronauts from the Space Coast is slipping into late 2019, according to the new launch timeline updated by NASA.

These adjustments allow for completion of necessary hardware testing, data verification, remaining NASA and provider reviews, as well as training of flight controllers and mission managers. An "uncrewed" test is supposed to go down in April. The space agency is hoping one or both of the crew capsules will be certified as safe to fly by the end of this year.

In order to meet NASA's requirements, both SpaceX and Boeing must demonstrate an ability to safely and efficiently transport crews into space. Boeing will run a pad abort test no earlier than May 2019 now, while SpaceX will perform an in-flight abort test in June.

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