Boeing crew-capsule mission delayed after abort engines fail in test

Ismael LynchAug 03, 2018

On the eve of announcing the first crews to blast off aboard commercial crew capsules being built by Boeing and SpaceX, NASA posted updated launch targets Thursday that, as expected, push the first piloted flights to the spring or summer of 2019.

The agency released the revised schedule with little fanfare ahead of a planned August 3 announcement at the Johnson Space Center of the astronauts that will fly the two companies' crewed demonstration missions, as well as on the first post-certification, or operational, missions by each company.

A failed test of the abort engines on Boeing's Starliner spacecraft will delay the company's maiden uncrewed test flight into late this year or early next year, the company has confirmed. The report cited safety concerns and testing delays, and warned that future delays could interrupt the access of American astronauts to the International Space Station.

The ground controllers will use the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Dragon from the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony module and manoeuvre the vehicle into its release position. With all this happening you might be thinking that astronaut wardrobe is the least of NASA's concerns, but you couldn't be more wrong.

Two companies have NASA contracts to provide flights to the ISS between 2019 and 2024: SpaceX and Boeing (ba).

NASA has outsourced the design of new spacesuits to various contractors, and those projects resulted in prototypes that would seem to be a huge step forward. The crewed demonstration flight, with two astronauts on board, will follow in April 2019, four months later than previously announced.

NASA Announces Boeing and Space Crews

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. They will launch atop the company's Falcon 9 rockets from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, the same pad, now extensively modifiled, that was once used by shuttles and Saturn 5 moon rockets.

Each company's new ship could be test-launched (without any astronauts inside) by the end of the year.

The setback means the first crewed test flight will be pushed back to the middle of 2019, he said.

"They are providing input to the partners to help ensure the interior of the cabin is appropriately located and set up so crew can function and conduct key activities".

After successful completion of the flight tests with crew, NASA will review flight data to verify the systems meet the agency's safety and performance certification requirements and are ready to begin regular servicing missions to the space station.

"In similar fashion, NASA is empowering private industry to gain solid footing in low-Earth orbit, which will allow NASA to explore new frontiers in deep space".

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