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

SpaceX, Boeing (and NASA) Push Back 1st Test Launches of Private Spaceships

Commercial crew test flight schedule slips again

NASA announced in August past year the names of the first four astronauts who will fly the Crew Dragon module in 2019.

Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, said the initial launches without astronauts are "a great dry run for not only our hardware, but for our team to get ready for our crewed flight tests".

The Falcon 9 booster will blast off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, which has a new crew access arm installed on the launch tower for eventual manned missions.

The launch would mark the first orbital flight of a private space taxi. Assuming those tests go well and there isn't a need for further delays, we'll see the first crewed mission from SpaceX, Demo-2, happen in July, while Boeing's Crew Flight Test will happen no earlier than August.

There still are many critical steps to complete before launch and while we eagerly are anticipating these launches, we will step through our test flight preparations and readiness reviews. But launch dates for both flights have just been pushed to the right, NASA announced today (Feb. 6).

In a statement, NASA said that the initial uncrewed test flight by SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, previously scheduled for no earlier February 23, was now scheduled for no earlier than March 2. NASA and SpaceX said these first flights are "dress rehearsals" for future missions.

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"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight". This one, also without crew, will take place in April at the earliest.

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

To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station.

These initial flights in the Commercial Crew Program will be unmanned. After the uncrewed flight tests, Boeing and SpaceX will complete a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions.

Blue Origin is also developing a crew capsule that might carry passengers by year's end.

NASA's final now contracted Soyuz flight is scheduled for launch in July. Both craft will then have to perform abort tests and a test mission with crew aboard.

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