The SpaceX Crew Dragon will be launched toward the space station by one of the company's Falcon 9 rockets. If all goes well, SpaceX and NASA hope to launch a two-man crew to the International Space Station aboard a Dragon capsule in July.
Boeing, meanwhile, is targeting no earlier than April for its first launch of a Starliner crew capsule from Cape Canaveral, also without a crew. 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 capsule, which was supposed to go to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 7, has been delayed twice already since then, Engadget reported.
"The first flights are dress rehearsals for missions with astronauts aboard the vehicles".
The Crew Dragon will blast off towards the ISS for two weeks in a bid to prove its reliability and safety in carrying astronauts into space.
No one will be on board for the crew Dragon's inaugural test flight to the orbiting outpost. Both flights will be tests.
"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".
It would be the first launch of US astronauts into orbit, from USA soil, since NASA's shuttle program ended in 2011.
To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station.
The agency's Commercial Crew Program has been working with SpaceX "throughout the month of January" to make sure it is "ready to learn critical information that will further help us to fly our crews safely", officials said.
The following planning dates reflect inputs by the Commercial Crew Program and the two companies and are current as of February 4, 2019.
Blue Origin is also developing a crew capsule that might carry passengers by year's end.
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Unlike approaches by unpiloted Dragon cargo ships, which halt their approaches just short of the station and wait for the lab's robot arm to lock on and pull them in for berthing, the Crew Dragon will fly a computer-guided rendezvous all the way to docking at a modified port at the front of the space station.