NASA has released new target dates for test flights of commercial crew capsules in development by SpaceX and Boeing, with unpiloted demo missions by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spaceships now scheduled for January and March, followed by crewed orbital missions in mid-2019.
An impromptu repair job Thursday appears to have stopped a leak in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked to the International Space Station, and the crew was back on its normal schedule Friday carrying out research and making preparations for the arrival of a Japanese cargo ship next month.
The NASA manager overseeing development of Boeing and SpaceX’s commercial crew ferry ships says the space agency has approved SpaceX’s proposal to strap in astronauts atop Falcon 9 rockets, then fuel the launchers in the final hour of the countdown as the company does for its uncrewed missions.
NASA announced Friday a mix of spaceflight veterans and rookie astronauts who will launch on the first flights of new Boeing and SpaceX commercial spaceships starting as soon as next spring, several months later than previously scheduled.
NASA is announcing the astronauts who will fly the first crewed test flights of the SpaceX Dragon 2 and Boeing Starliner capsules next year. The event at the Johnson Space Center is due to get underway at 11am EDT (1500 GMT).
Several NASA astronauts, plus Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson, recently participated in a training session at Cape Canaveral, practicing how they would evacuate from the Atlas 5 rocket’s launch pad in the event of a countdown emergency.
NASA’s last space shuttle commander — former U.S. Navy fighter pilot Chris Ferguson — will fly Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsule on its first piloted test mission to the International Space Station next year.