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SpaceX's Crew Dragon suffers third major setback

SpaceX's Crew Dragon suffers third major setback

"The uncrewed flight tests are a great dry run for not only our hardware, but for our team to get ready for our crewed flight tests", Kathy Lueders, NASA's commercial crew program manager, said in the statement.

SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 with the astronaut-ready space capsule from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Launchpad 39A. The two-week demonstration flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, with no crew on board, had been planned for January and then February.

Boeing's first uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner vehicle, previously scheduled for March, is now expected no earlier than April.

While the schedule for the crewed test flights are little changed from previous schedules, there's an expectation in the industry that those dates, too, will slip depending on when the uncrewed test flights take place and their outcomes.

The Crew Dragon, which is created to take astronauts to the ISS, will need to undergo its first uncrewed test flight before next steps.

The launch would mark the first orbital flight of a private space taxi.

NASA's commercial crew program has been delayed repeatedly over the years, forcing a lengthy, expensive reliance on Russian rockets. That launch will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Space Launch Complex 41.

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The space agency says the extra time will be used to complete necessary testing and reviews as well as train flight controllers and mission managers. Both the manned and unmanned flights will be tests.

"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".

SpaceX and Boeing each have contracts with NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

The date to resuming launches of US astronauts from the Space Coast is slipping into late 2019, according to the new launch timeline updated by NASA.

The agency's Commercial Crew Program has been working with SpaceX "throughout the month of January" to make sure it is "ready to learn critical information that will further help us to fly our crews safely", officials said.

If the test is successful, SpaceX will carry on with the second one which got delayed to July 2019.

Astronauts haven't been launched from the United States since the shuttering of NASA's longstanding shuttle program in 2011.


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