The two companies developing commercial crew vehicles are confident that they will be ready to start carrying astronauts in 2018 despite a recent report that concluded delays into 2019 were likely.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off for the first time from a launch site at KSC previously used by Apollo and shuttle missions Feb. 19, placing a Dragon cargo spacecraft into orbit.
The first launch by SpaceX from an historic KSC launch pad will be delayed by at least a day after a technical problem scrubbed an attempted launch of a Dragon cargo spacecraft Feb. 18.
SpaceX said Feb. 17 that, other a technical issue with the upper stage of its Falcon 9 rocket, it is ready to perform its first launch from a historic launch pad here last used by the space shuttle more than five years ago.
NASA plans to complete by the middle of March a contingency plan for ensuring access to the International Space Station should its two commercial crew partners suffer additional delays.
It will be the first for SpaceX from Launch Complex 39A, previously used by the shuttle program.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that launch rate should be possible once it starts flying out of Launch Complex 39A.
A draft version of the report notes that engineers have found cracks in turbine blades in the turbopumps of the engines.
Iridium announced Jan. 31 it has purchased an additional Falcon 9 launch from SpaceX that the satellite services company will share with a German-U.S. Earth science mission.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Jan. 14 and successfully delivered ten Iridium Communications satellites into polar orbit.
A NASA safety board recommended in its annual report that the agency closely study the safety issues associated with SpaceX’s fueling plans for Falcon 9 commercial crew missions.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has issued a launch license to SpaceX for the upcoming return to flight of its Falcon 9, although its planned launch has been delayed by at least one day.