NASA will decide in the coming weeks whether to extend a crewed SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station, a move that could help alleviate a crew time crunch on the station.
SpaceX successfully tested the abort system of its Crew Dragon spacecraft Jan. 19, one of the final milestones before a crewed test flight that could take place as soon as this spring.
NASA’s inspector general warned in a new report that, because of commercial crew delays, utilization of the International Space Station will drop sharply in 2020 and that NASA runs the risk of losing access entirely by next fall.
SpaceX said Nov. 3 that it has now carried out 13 consecutive successful tests of a new parachute design for its Crew Dragon spacecraft after overcoming initial problems with it.
Boeing and SpaceX are on schedule to perform two critical tests of their commercial crew vehicles in the next week with hopes that both vehicles will be ready to carry astronauts by early next year.
Boeing expects to carry out a pad abort test for its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle in early November, followed by an uncrewed orbital flight test in mid-December, a company executive said Oct. 8.
Boeing and SpaceX said Aug. 19 that they expect to carry out critical test flights of their commercial crew systems this fall, with SpaceX still hopeful of launching astronauts to the International Space Station this year.
SpaceX said July 15 that the explosion that destroyed a Crew Dragon spacecraft during a ground test in April was likely caused by oxidizer that leaked into the spacecraft’s propulsion system and destroyed a valve, but didn’t give a firm schedule for resuming test flights.
An incident involving a test of parachutes for one commercial crew vehicle has heightened awareness of the challenges involved in developing those systems, as well as determining what constitutes an anomaly.
A SpaceX executive May 2 provided new details about, but no cause of, an incident that destroyed a Crew Dragon spacecraft during a ground test last month.