According to NASA’s latest update on the SpaceX crewed flights towards the International Space Station (ISS), the first launch will take place in June 2019. NASA’s space shuttle program was retired in 2011, so until now, US astronauts had to get on board of Russian Soyuz spacecraft. That resulted in costly rides so far, but SpaceX and Boeing are both working to have NASA send US astronauts on board of US spacecraft.
As for the first flight with the Boeing spacecraft, the date is set to August 2019.
Both companies had postponed the launches for a few times, but on Thursday, NASA said that they would update the public each month on any changes in the deadline. Phil McAlister, who is the director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA Headquarters, stated the following:
“This new process for reporting our schedule is better; nevertheless, launch dates will still have some uncertainty, and we anticipate they may change as we get closer to launch.”
Getting the Systems Ready to Fly
McAlister added that the new spacecraft must be adjusted continuously to be ready for flight:
“These are new spacecraft, and the engineering teams have a lot of work to do before the systems will be ready to fly.”
The two crewed missions are test flights. Both SpaceX and Boeing will have two astronauts in each flight, and they will spend two weeks on the orbiting space station and then return to Earth.
After the missions are successful, NASA will use both companies to take astronauts to the orbiting lab in regular missions that last almost six months.
In January 2019, SpaceX will have an uncrewed test, and Boeing will shortly follow through with it in March.
The rocket used by SpaceX to launch the Crew Dragon capsule will be the Falcon 9 Rocket. Boeing’s Starliner capsule will be sent by an Atlas V rocket which was built by the United Launch Alliance.
NASA depends on these two missions, expecting successful results, because their contract with the Russian space agency to send astronauts with the Soyuz capsules will expire in November 2019.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.