The Race Is On: SpaceX and Boeing Manned Capsule Flights Get Official Names

There are only a few hours remaining before the world finds out the names of the bravest astronauts in recent decades, the ones that will be climbing on board space capsule designed by SpaceX and Boeing.
SpaceX and Boeing capsules to fly with crews in 2019 1 photo
In anticipation of the announcement, NASA released additional details about the historic tests to be conducted by the two companies. Both will be starting to show off their capsules with uncrewed flight tests by the end of the year.

NASA says it did not request such tests, but both companies volunteered to conduct them anyway. For SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the uncrewed mission has been designated Demo-1, and it will take off with the help of Falcon 9 from Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Boeing Starliner’s flight will be known as the Orbital Flight Test, and it will depart atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

“This was above and beyond the NASA requirement in the contract,” said in a statement Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager at NASA Kennedy.

“Both partners said they really wanted to have an uncrewed flight test to make sure the integrated rockets, spacecraft and re-entry systems are all working as designed to be able to ensure the integrated system is functioning.”

Should everything go as planned, the manned test flights will follow in 2019. Due to some further testing required on Boeing’s Starliner, it is likely SpaceX will to beat the aerospace giant in becoming the first private company to launch astronauts in an American-built space capsule.

The crewed mission will be called Demo-2 for SpaceX and Crew Flight Test for Boeing. Each will be manned by at least a flight commander and a pilot.

Both capsules will be launched from Earth, will have to travel safely to the International Space Station (ISS), dock and undock autonomously and then safely bring the crews back to Earth.

Later in the day, NASA will be announcing the names of the astronauts to launch next year. Stay tuned for further updates.


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