SpaceX and Boeing Manned Capsule Flights Get Official Names

Month NASA Will Be Declaring Crew Members For SpaceX And Boeing

The Starliner and Crew Dragon will launch American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Under the new schedule, SpaceX will fly an uncrewed demonstration mission in November 2018, three months later than the previous schedule released by NASA early this year. Anyone now assigned to a space mission also won't be picked for the Boeing and SpaceX flights, NASA told Business Insider.

The test flights and missions aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, slated for as early as April 2019, will "begin a new era in America spaceflight", the USA space agency said.

What commercial spacecraft will fly?

NASA/Kennedy Space Center (via Flickr); Boeing; Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn illustration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft (left) and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft (right).

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. Seven seats, to be precise; that's how many people Crew Dragon can accommodate.

Among the options being considered by NASA is to use the crewed flight test as a crew rotation flight by adding a third astronaut to the mission and extending its stay from two weeks to as long as six months. Boeing also connected the upper and lower domes of its Crew Flight Test spacecraft and attached its docking system in June.

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■ PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem), a mission to monitor the planet's ocean health, which has not yet launched.

According to the space agency, the event will be presided by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who will name at least eight of the first astronauts designated to take the Starliner and Crew Dragon space pods for a spin "and begin a new era in American spaceflight".

In March, SpaceX performed two parachute tests, the company's 14th and 15th overall parachute test supporting Crew Dragon development in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Last month, news broke that Starliner's launch-abort engines cut off during a test fire's cool-down phase.

Neither SpaceX nor Boeing is expected to be ready to carry out flights with people on board by that date because of various delays in certifying their programs, the independent Government Accountability Office said in its July report. SpaceX is targeting April 2019 for its crewed demonstration flight, Demo-2.

"We are confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action", including some design changes, Boeing said this week. "They're verifying crew layout, doing simulations where they're actually practicing their maneuvers, and also checking out the software and the display systems, and everything else for the crew to be functioning safely in the spacecraft".

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