NASA confirmed Jan. 10 that an uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will now take place no sooner than February, due at least in part to the ongoing government shutdown.
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While a SpaceX commercial crew test flight might not launch on a date in early January previously announced NASA, both agency and company officials are optimistic the mission will still fly later in the month.
NASA has set Jan. 7 as the date for the launch of the first commercial crew test flight, an uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that will start a series of high-stakes missions over the next year.
NASA plans to carry out a review in the coming months of the safety practices at Boeing and SpaceX, an examination reportedly prompted by the actions of SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Members of an independent NASA safety panel said they were worried that the Oct. 11 Soyuz launch failure could make safety concerns with the agency’s commercial crew program even worse.
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A day after a SpaceX executive expressed doubts that his company would be able to carry out its first commercial crew test flight before the end of the year, NASA issued an updated schedule that delayed that mission to 2019.
A SpaceX executive said Oct. 3 that the company’s first commercial crew test flight could be delayed until early 2019 because of paperwork issues.
Boeing and SpaceX, who have been struggling to meet safety thresholds established by NASA for commercial crew vehicles, now believe their vehicles can meet those requirements as they prepare for test flights scheduled in the next several months.
NASA is continuing to study using commercial crew test flights as space station crew rotation missions, but won’t make a final decision regarding that until next summer.
NASA announced Aug. 17 that it will allow SpaceX to use a fueling approach for its commercial crew missions that attracted prior scrutiny, pending a final series of tests.
NASA announced Aug. 3 the assignment of eight agency astronauts, a mix of veterans and rookies, as well as one company astronaut to fly on the first set of commercial crew missions by Boeing and SpaceX.
NASA released an updated schedule of commercial crew test flights Aug. 2 that confirms Boeing’s revised plans as well as delays for SpaceX’s two demonstration missions.
Boeing now plans to carry out an uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle late this year or early next year as it addresses a problem found during a recent test of the spacecraft’s abort engines.