NASA, commercial partners progress to human spaceflight home stretch

NASA Announces Boeing and Space Crews

Dragon will also be returning a Latching End Effector that was removed from the station's robotic arm to be refurbished on Earth and returned to the orbiting complex as a spare. The first astronauts to fly to the International Space Station aboard privately developed and built commercial spacecraft will be announced by NASA today.

The Expedition 56 crew has finished loading Dragon with sensitive research results and station gear for analysis and refurbishment back on Earth. He will make the announcement at NASA's Johnson Space Center Friday morning.

SpaceX plans to fly Demo-2, its first crewed test flight, in April 2019, while Boeing's Crew Test Flight is now slated for mid-2019, according to a new schedule that NASA released Thursday.

Both Boeing and SpaceX have designed their own spacesuits. Surprisingly, only 3.0 percent of adults in the survey said NASA's top focus should be sending astronauts to the moon, while a mere 8.0 percent said a human trip to Mars or other planets should be a top priority.

If those uncrewed missions go well, Boeing and SpaceX will each follow with two crewed flights in 2019.

The setback comes as Boeing is entrenched in a competition with Elon Musk's SpaceX to deliver astronauts to the space station, replacing the Russian rockets now used for that objective.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office warned that the companies were slipping in their schedules toward NASA certification, with Boeing reaching that milestone in December 2019 and SpaceX a month later. For CST-100 Starliner, there will be one from NASA and one from Boeing.

"Tomorrow we will meet the astronauts who will be the first to fly the CST-100 Starliner".

These astronauts will be the first to launch on vehicles owned by commercial companies. DM-2, Crew Dragon's first manned demonstration flight, is still now scheduled for December 2018, as reported by the Inquisitr. Boeing also connected the upper and lower domes of its Crew Flight Test spacecraft and attached its docking system in June. However, Boeing announced Wednesday a delay for its first crewed launch. Nominally, two astronauts will be on each test flight.

In March, SpaceX performed two parachute tests, the company's 14th and 15th overall parachute test supporting Crew Dragon development in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Now, however, the SpaceX uncrewed flight is scheduled for November 2018 and its crewed successor for April 2019 - edging in front of Boeing's planned launches.

In July, SpaceX shipped its Crew Dragon spacecraft to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for processing in preparation for Demo-1, and completed its first high-altitude balloon drop test - and 17th overall parachute system test - in the Mojave Desert from ~50,000 feet.

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