Saturday, 16 February, 2019

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

SpaceX engineers prepare to roll a Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon to Launch Complex 39A SpaceX engineers prepare to roll a Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon to Launch Complex 39A
Frank Williams | 09 February, 2019, 20:57

Artist's illustrations of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner (left) and SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsules in orbit.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon was supposed to take off in January, with Boeing's Starliner set for March.

NASA said the revised dates "allow for completion of necessary hardware testing, data verification, remaining NASA and provider reviews, as well as training of flight controllers and mission managers". Though they're essentially practice runs, they're still big launches, as the Commercial Crew Program will eventually be used to take astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station.

The next big box to check after these demonstration flights will be tests of the private vehicles' emergency escape systems, which would get the capsules away from danger if a problem arose during launch.

NASA announced Wednesday the first unpiloted test flight of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon astronaut ferry ship has slipped from later this month to March 2.

Crew Dragon's crew-carrying demonstration is now scheduled for July, and Starliner's for no earlier than August, according to the new NASA update.

In quotes: Reaction to Bruce McArthur’s sentencing
Also discussed was McArthur's habit of taking pictures of his victims in various costumes, according to The Washington Post . In his decision, McMahon said McArthur "lured the men to their deaths" likely on the promise of consensual sexual activity.

The first two SpaceX flights will ultimately be "dress rehearsals" for future missions that feature astronauts aboard, according to officials. The US space agency is now targeting March 2 for the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and "no earlier than April" for Boeing's unmanned flight test.

"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".

In mid-January, a source told Sputnik that a manned Dragon 2 mission would fly to the ISS in July 2019 with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on board.

It would be the first launch of US astronauts into orbit, from USA soil, since NASA's shuttle program ended in 2011. Once they are completed, the Starliner will be certified by NASA for regular flights to the ISS.

The overall commercial crew program has suffered extensive delays. "NASA has been working together with SpaceX and Boeing to make sure we are ready to conduct these test flights and get ready to learn critical information that will further help us to fly our crews safely". The next step after that will be an in-flight test of the capsule's abort systems.

Boeing's crewed launch is scheduled for August.

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