Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

NASA, commercial partners progress to human spaceflight home stretch

NASA-Boeing-Astronauts NASA Announces Boeing and Space Crews
Grady Vargas | 03 August, 2018, 16:26

And it's now apparent that SpaceX is slightly ahead-it will conduct a crewed test flight in April of next year, while Boeing's crewed test is only scheduled for "mid-2019". Ever since the Space Shuttle Program ended, American astronauts have been paying for seats on Russia's Soyuz capsules to make it to the International Space Station where they live and work for a span of six months.

This is breaking news. The Demonstration Mission 1 flight test is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract.

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

Starliner's launch abort system, created to eject the crew pod a safe distance from the rocket in case of an emergency, relies on four engines developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Chris Ferguson, Boeing's director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems and a former NASA shuttle astronaut, wears the new launch-and-entry suit that Boeing unveiled a year ago at Kennedy Space Center.

The agency released the revised schedule with little fanfare ahead of a planned August 3 announcement at the Johnson Space Center of the astronauts that will fly the two companies' crewed demonstration missions, as well as on the first post-certification, or operational, missions by each company. Boeing's Starliner spacecraft will blast off atop United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, while SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will travel on the company's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

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The chamber allowed SpaceX and NASA to verify Crew Dragon's ability to withstand the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space.

Four commercial crew astronauts - Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams - have been training on both private space companies' capsules.

They will fly the Boeing Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

SpaceX said it would fly crews by April.

While the space agency has remained secretive about who might get picked for the honor of taking the first rides on board Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, perhaps so as not to spoil the great surprise, NASA officials did tell the Business Insider that only astronauts who are not now assigned to a space mission are eligible for the test flights of the brand-new spacecraft. If history is any guide, the crews taking the spotlight on Friday will have even more time to train. The two front-runners to emerge were SpaceX and Boeing. Both will be starting to show off their capsules with uncrewed flight tests by the end of the year. "Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demo-1 for SpaceX".

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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