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NASA Commercial Crew Flights Slip Slide Toward 2019

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
January 11, 2018
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Astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe evaluate Crew Dragon controls. (Credit: NASA)

Crucial flight tests for NASA’s two commercial crew vehicles are slipping ever closer to 2019. The space agency released the following updated schedules for Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon 2 vehicles today:

Targeted Test Flight Dates

Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): August 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): November 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1 (uncrewed): August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): December 2018

Boeing’s schedule has not changed from the previous update. SpaceX’s demonstration flights have slipped from April and August to August and December, respectively. No reasons have been given for the slips.

A reliable source tells Parabolic Arc that SpaceX experienced a delay several months ago due to issues with Dragon 2’s environmental control and life support system (ECLSS). The problem was estimated to delay the first demonstration flight about six months. At about that same time, the schedule for that first uncrewed flight slipped from February to April.

A SpaceX spokeswoman would not comment for the record on this report.

18 responses to “NASA Commercial Crew Flights Slip Slide Toward 2019”

  1. Robert G. Oler says:

    it will happen

  2. Jeff Smith says:

    The race to slip the least is ON! 🙂

  3. Douglas Messier says:

    My guess is both crewed flights slip into 2019. Those dates are pretty close to the end of the year. And both providers are dealing with some knotty issues.

  4. therealdmt says:

    In any given calendar year, for things scheduled from this far out,

    December = the next year
    November = most likely the next year

    • Michael Halpern says:

      Boeing has said they wanted to select demo crew 12 months in advance of flight, they have yet to do that as they are still pretty uncertain about the schedule, for SpaceX this was a 4 month delay, which is remarkably short so I don’t expect more major delays before their uncrewed, any after that depend on demo 1 and in flight abort test

  5. therealdmt says:

    Wow, this sucks. There’s an upcoming end date for this whole endeavor, the end of the ISS. If the Trump admin. is serious about a return to the Moon, the ISS should be ended in 2024. That isn’t my personal desire, but there will be no robust return to the Moon’s surface any time soon if NASA has to have its manned space flight budget divided between the ISS and developing a lunar lander, rover, lunar shelter/base and associated equipment, at least not without a complete overhaul of how NASA funds and develops such projects (and, given the political nature of the budget, such an all-encompassing overhaul won’t happen). Additionally, NASA’s Deep Space Gateway could be added to all of that.

    Alternately, the Administration could accept NASA’s proposal of a Deep Space Gateway as fulfilling the return to the Moon mandate and simultaneously continue the ISS to 2028 or beyond. In that case, a delay into 2019 still gives time for a non-government (or at least a non-US government) market to develop, which was a large part of the purpose of the commercial crew program — to lead to the situation of having existing commercial providers of manned access to LEO that NASA could, to an extent, just buy a ticket with when it needs to get its astronauts off of the Earth.

    If start of commercial crew service gets delayed to 2020 (if it just effectively got pushed out to 2019, you’d better believe 2020 isn’t impossible) and the station is already winding down in 2023, the whole program’s gonna have been a big fat dud

    • therealdmt says:

      We’ll have to wait and see what the 2019 budget proposal is — that could be a biggie in terms of a major redirection. Actually, there are a lot of possibilities at this moment

    • windbourne says:

      ISS shutting down in 2024 would be IDEAL IFF we have several private space stations. From that point, it would be easy for them to add more.

  6. Saturn1300 says:

    I wonder if a Dragon2 cargo will fly first. Musk said it will not have the Super Draco. He said it will fly to test Crew Dragon. It would be a good idea. No mention though. No one asked ISS people, Might be on a ISS schedule. Wow 6 mo. delay caused by ECLSS. Must have been a big problem. Bad.
    Boeing said they will name crew 1 year in advance. No crew, so it will be beyond 1 year from now. It seems they take time available and finish when they have to. ISS said they are making plans if there are more slips. More Soyuz I guess. I said they should have converted Dragon1 to crew with the 1st launch as backup. NASA would have had plenty of time for slips. A hearing is next week, maybe there will be some answers then.

    Pressure vessel

    10 m3 (350 cu ft) interior pressurized, environmentally controlled, payload volume.[5]
    Onboard environment: 10–46 °C (50–115 °F); relative humidity 25~75%; 13.9~14.9 psia air pressure (958.4~1027 hPa).[5]
    From SpaceX. Good enough for mice, ought to be good enough for at least one human. A copy of the Apollo escape tower. Uses no computer, timers, radio or push a button. Better than Soyuz. I hope one of the ISS answers, of course not.

  7. windbourne says:

    If NASA would quit adding more russian seats, I suspect that the slip to the right would stop.
    Boeing and SX are allowing this to go because NASA enables it.

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