SpaceX’s Crew Dragon suffers third straight setback

SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner are looking to become the next rideshare providers to space. 

NASA

We’re going to have to wait a bit longer to finally see astronauts take a ride aboard new spacecraft from SpaceX and Boeing.

NASA announced Wednesday that the first uncrewed test launches of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship and Boeing’s Starliner have been pushed back yet again. This is the third month in a row that NASA has announced a further delay for the first major test flight of Crew Dragon.

The uncrewed demonstration launch of Crew Dragon is now set for March 2 and Starliner will perform a similar launch no earlier than April. Both craft will then have to perform abort tests and a test mission with crew aboard. If all goes well, the first time we could actually see humans in a Crew Dragon might be July, followed by a crewed test flight for Starliner in August.

If those crewed demos go smoothly, SpaceX and Boeing could become the first commercial American companies to send people to the International Space Station. Since the end of the Space Shuttle program, NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to bring astronauts to and from orbit. Bringing crewed launches back to US soil is a major goal for NASA under the leadership of new administrator Jim Bridenstine and the Trump administration.

NASA said that work toward the commercial crew test launches continued during the month of January and was not affected by the record-setting shutdown of the federal government that lasted from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25.

The space agency says the extra time will be used to complete necessary testing and reviews as well as train flight controllers and mission managers.

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