Engine flaw delays Boeing test of crew capsule to 2019

Aug 03, 2018, 09:00
Engine flaw delays Boeing test of crew capsule to 2019

SpaceX and Boeing have not released updated timelines for the first flights of their respective Crew Dragon and Starliner capsules.

Before the engine problem, Boeing was planning to start the tests this year, but they had to change the schedule, so it is possible that both tests will start in 2019. Like many spaceflight programs, development has been slow-going, with milestones regularly delayed. "SpaceX is targeting November 2018 for Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission and April 2019 for Crew Dragon's second demonstration mission, which will carry two NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station".

According to Investor's Business Daily, it looks like Elon Musk's company might beat Boeing to the punch and be the first to launch its astronaut-ferrying vehicle to the ISS.

The NASA statement did not disclose reasons for either company's delays, and SpaceX did not respond to questions about its revised schedule.

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It has been widely expected that those dates would slip, however.

Neither SpaceX nor Boeing is expected to be ready to carry out flights with people on board by that date because of various delays in certifying their programs, the independent Government Accountability Office said in its July report. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on the status of the commercial crew program in January at which GAO's Cristina Chaplain presented those results based on earlier analysis. Sometimes called the "Commercial Crew Cadre", those astronauts are seasoned veterans who've worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX on their new spacecraft and systems over the past three years. "After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions". His remarks were widely reported and Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Regan confirmed the news via email to SpacePolicyOnline.com.

The uncrewed capsule will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in late 2018 or early 2019 - followed by a launch abort test with another unmanned Starliner vehicle, Spacecraft 1, sometime during next year's first few months. Four NASA astronauts were selected in 2015 for training. Tomorrow, on 3 August, at around 11 a.m. EDT, NASA will broadcast the live video of their announcement, so be sure to check the link at the end of this article. The CST-100 Cockpit allows the crew to be within 60 hours.

There will be at least eight astronauts announced tomorrow - each crewed test flight will have at least two astronauts.

SpaceX has not publicly revised its Crew Dragon schedule.

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