NASA announced Feb. 6 another set of delays to the schedule of commercial crew test flights by Boeing and SpaceX, increasing concerns that the vehicles won’t be ready to starting transporting astronauts to the International Space Station by the end of this year.
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.
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 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.
Boeing confirmed July 21 that there was an “anomaly” during a recent test of the launch abort engines for its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle that could delay a key milestone needed for the vehicle to be able carry astronauts.
Both NASA and the two companies developing commercial crew vehicles say those efforts remain on schedule for test flights that are in some cases less than a year away.
One of the NASA astronauts training for commercial crew test flights said he expects the agency to make crew assignments for them as soon as this summer.
Boeing and United Launch Alliance showed off an astronaut safety system during a media event the day before the 33rd Space Symposium.
Boeing plans to announce this summer the crew that will be on a test flight of the company’s CST-100 crew vehicle in 2017, as well as reveal the pressure suits the crew will wear.
Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions will finish developing and deliver a key flight data handling system for Boeing’s CST-100 commercial astronaut taxi under a contract modification.
Boeing Defense, Space and Security is consolidating several of its aerospace development programs, including the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and CST-100 commercial crew vehicle, into a new organization intended to improve management of those efforts.