Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, said the initial launches without astronauts are "a great dry run for not only our hardware, but for our team to get ready for our crewed flight tests". The Commercial Crew Program was originally scheduled to get off the ground in January with the launch of SpaceX's Demo-1, followed by Boeing's Orbital Flight Test in March. 6, 2019, officials set March 2 as the latest launch date for an unmanned test.
The new U.S. spacecraft Dragon 2 will be launched for an unmanned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 2, a source in the Russian space industry told Sputnik on Wednesday.
"NASA's Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit and the space station", the agency said, "on systems that meet safety and performance requirements".
SpaceX had been targeting February 23 for Crew Dragon's shakeout cruise to the ISS, an uncrewed flight called Demo-1.More news: Jurgen Klopp confirms positive timeframe for Joe Gomez’s return for Liverpool
Earlier in January, SpaceX completed the first static fire test of its iconic Falcon 9 rocket with the mounted Crew Dragon module at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A in Florida.
SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the space station since 2012, under contract to NASA.
NASA today said that this allows it, SpaceX, and Boeing more time to make sure everything will be good to go for launch.
After the Crew Dragon completes its first test flight, SpaceX aims to have the capsule's first manned mission take place in July, which is a bit later than planned.More news: Commonwealth Bank half-year profit falls 6pc to $4.6b
For the initial SpaceX test flight, the Dragon will depart five days after docking, plunging back into the atmosphere for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape Canaveral. The test flight had been planned for mid June, but sources say it's now targeted for July.
Boeing, meanwhile, plans to launch its CST-100 Starliner capsule on its first unpiloted test fight in April.
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. "And while we eagerly are anticipating these launches, we will step through our test flight preparations and readiness reviews". Unlike the Crew Dragon, the Starliner is created to land in the western United States using parachutes and airbags.
NASA also hopes to send astronauts into space using capsules made by Boeing. Operational flights will begin sometime thereafter, assuming everything goes well.More news: New Stephen King Pet Sematary trailer claws at your deepest fears