NASA Targets Crew Dragon Launch on March 2, Pushes Starliner's to April

SpaceX, Boeing (and NASA) Push Back 1st Test Launches of Private Spaceships

A second test flight, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board, is now scheduled for July.

In order to meet NASA's requirements, both SpaceX and Boeing must demonstrate an ability to safely and efficiently transport crews into space. Neither NASA nor SpaceX explained why they are delaying the test, but we can only assume that the 35-day shutdown of the government messed with their schedule, considering many NASA employees were not on site during the shutdown.

The test flights for NASA's highly anticipated Commercial Crew Program to return astronauts to space from USA soil are happening a litter later than initially expected.

SpaceX, though, has been making progress, including rolling out the Crew Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket to Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in early January for tests.

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If schedules hold, the crewed launches this summer will be the first to take off from US soil carrying humans to low-Earth orbit since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

The space agency says the extra time will be used to complete necessary testing and reviews as well as train flight controllers and mission managers. The Dragon test was most recently delayed from January. Recovery crews will haul the craft to shore for detailed post-flight examination. The company recently conducted a static fire of the rocket's engines on the launchpad bringing the Falcon 9 one step closer to the Demo-1 launch with Crew Dragon. NASA is giving itself just under a month to make sure everything is ready for SpaceX Demo-1 on March 2, so we'll see soon enough if these delays have provided enough time to ensure we're ready for launch. "It is March 2", the source said.

Boeing, meanwhile, plans to launch its CST-100 Starliner capsule on its first unpiloted test fight in April. NASA, in partnership with SpaceX and Boeing, aims to drop its dependency on Russian Soyuz rockets for sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Unlike the Crew Dragon, the Starliner is created to land in the western United States using parachutes and airbags. That should clear the way for Boeing to launch a three-person crew - company astronaut Chris Ferguson, a former shuttle commander, and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann - in late August. Operational flights will begin sometime thereafter, assuming everything goes well.

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