2019: the year American crewed spaceflight returns?

Hailing frequencies open… Forums Sci Minus Fi Human Spaceflight 2019: the year American crewed spaceflight returns?

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    Earl
    Earl
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    Keep an eye out in the next 60 days… they could tack a new chapter onto the history books.

    Capsules

    First up is SpaceX, planning an uncrewed launch of Crew Dragon [LINK]:

    The Crew Dragon test flight, called Demo-1, was scheduled to launch on Jan. 17 after already being pushed back once from a Jan. 7 target. NASA announced the new schedule slip, which delays the launch by at least two weeks, in a written status update.

    “NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews,” NASA officials wrote in the update. “NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.”

    The Demo-1 mission is an uncrewed test of Crew Dragon that will fly the automated spacecraft to the space station. SpaceX is also expected to perform an uncrewed in-flight abort test with Dragon that would set the stage for the first crewed Dragon flight, called Demo-2, by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

    And then in March, Boeing might be giving its Starliner capsule a similar automated test drive [LINK]:

    Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner won’t be taking any astronauts along for its first flight to the ISS, however. After docking robotically with the orbiting lab, it will return to Earth for a parachute landing in Texas.

    If this test flight goes according to plan, Boeing will be ready to launch its first crew of astronauts to the space station in August.

    Not only will the Starliner and Dragon become the first spacecraft to launch astronauts from U.S. soil in about eight years, but Boeing and SpaceX will also become the first private companies to launch people to the space station.

    Whichever one is the first to carry astronauts to the ISS…it will still have been longer between crewed flights launched from American soil than the gap between Apollo-Soyuz and STS-1. Let’s not let the “gap decade” happen again.

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