Manned SpaceX Crew Dragon to Fly In June 2019, Boeing Starliner in August

Crew Dragon capsule 1 photo
Photo: SpaceX
Things are moving rapidly towards the moment when for the first time in eight years American astronauts will be taking off from American-soil, in American-built space-craft. And it will not be only one flight, but a series of them, in capsules built by two different companies.
Back in August, NASA announced the names of the astronauts who will climb onboard the new capsules. The machines are built by SpaceX, which named it Crew Dragon, and by Boeing, who baptized it Starliner.

Both capsules are nearing completion, and unmanned flight tests are scheduled for March 2019 at the latest. If anything goes according to plan, crewed flights will follow.

As per NASA in an update of the International Space Station (ISS) docking schedule, the first manned flight on the SpaceX machine will take place in June 2019, only to be followed one month later by that of Boeing’s.

For SpaceX's test flight, NASA assigned Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, both members of several Endeavour and Atlantis missions.

Boeing's capsule will be manned during the test flight by Eric Boe and Christopher Ferguson, both shuttle missions veterans, and Nicole Aunapu Mann, at her first flight to space.

For the missions to be successful, both capsules will have to launch, travel safely to the International Space Station (ISS), dock and undock autonomously and then safely bring the crews back to Earth.

After testing of the two spaceships is done, NASA plans to launch the first long-duration mission in August 2019, and the second one in December the same year. A decision on what spacecraft will be used for either of them has not yet been made.

In light of the increased number of commercial launches to the ISS, NASA says from now on it will update the launch schedule on a monthly basis, allowing the agency to “be more precise” in planning the missions.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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