SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Program Delay: 3+ Years

An instrumented mannequin sits in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

Updated Oct. 9, 2019 at 9:08 am PDT with paragraph summarizing some of the reasons for the schedule delays.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last week or so about NASA’s delay plagued Commercial Crew Program, which is designed to restore the nation’s ability to launch astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.

Prior to SpaceX CEO’s Elon Musk’s Sept. 28 webcast update on the Starship program, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed frustration that the company wasn’t more focused on the Crew Dragon program that hasn’t flown astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) yet.

Asked about the delay by a CNN journalist after giving an update on Starship’s progress on Sept. 28, Musk questioned whether Bridenstine was asking about delays at with commercial crew or with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). He laughed and mugged for the camera.

Musk’s rabid fans cheered it to be a sick burn against against a slow-moving space agency. The administrator diplomatically called it not helpful. He also revealed the cause of his pique.

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NASA to Broadcast Launch, Arrival of Astronaut Andrew Morgan at Space Station

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 60 crew members Drew Morgan of NASA, Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) pose for pictures July 5, 2019, in front of their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft during prelaunch preparations. They will launch July 20, 2019 from Baikonur for their mission on the International Space Station. (Credits: Roscosmos/Andrey Shelepin)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — A multinational crew of space travelers, including NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Saturday, July 20 – the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic landing on the Moon. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the crew’s launch and arrival.

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NASA Sets Coverage for Next Space Station Crew Launch, Docking

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are set to join the crew aboard the International Space Station on Thursday, March 14. The trio’s arrival will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six, including three NASA astronauts. This launch will also mark the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts. Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, are set to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a six-hour journey to the station.

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Who Will Become the World’s First Commercial Spaceline?

New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)
New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)

With Blue Origin’s successful re-flight of its reusable New Shepard booster and capsule on Friday, the company jumped ahead in the competition to fly people into space on a commercial basis.

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Will Virgin Galactic Team Up or Go it Alone on Commercial Crew?

Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

It seems that Virgin Galactic has a decision to make about how it goes about competing in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program:

“There’s about four companies that are seriously looking at [CCDev Phase 2],” [Richard] Branson said in an interview with Aviation Week. “Two of those companies we’re in discussions with about teaming up with. … Over the next month, we’re going to make a decision as to whether to team up with one of those two companies or go it alone, but we plan to be in orbital travel within the next few years.”

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