A closer look at SpaceX's and Boeing's Commercial Crew Spacecraft

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NASA Kennedy Space Center; Boeing Shayanne Gal Business Insider

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is packed with science and hardware ready for return to Earth on Friday.

When President Obama took office in 2009, he retained the Bush policy to terminate the shuttle program, which ultimately ended in 2011. However, both companies have had some problems with their vehicles lately (be it technical issues or just delays), and they have to prove that their spacecraft are safe for crewed missions to the ISS and that they can also bring them back to Earth.

Later in April, NASA trained Boeing and SpaceX teams to operate the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle created to help personnel escape the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency on launch day.

An artist's impression of Boeing's CST-100 "Starliner" spacecraft in low-Earth orbit, on the way to the International Space Station. Boe, along with launch operations engineers from NASA, Boeing, and ULA, climbed the launch pad tower to evaluate lighting and spotlights after dark.

Although they are PPPs, the government provides the lion's share of the funding.

The NASA statement did not disclose reasons for either company's delays, and SpaceX did not respond to questions about its revised schedule. Like many spaceflight programs, development has been slow-going, with milestones regularly delayed.

It is still not clear which company, Boeing or SpaceX, will launch humans first.

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The first flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon is expected in April 2019, following an unmanned test in November, NASA said. Flights without any people are expected before the end of 2018, followed by two crewed missions sometime in 2019.

Witnesses at January 17, 2018 House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on commercial crew.

"NASA project manager Brent Robertson said it would be ". a NASA first, an industry first, and a world first".

No launch date has been set for NASA's satellite fix demonstration, but the mission is expected to happen between 2020 and 2022. His remarks were widely reported and Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Regan confirmed the news via email to SpacePolicyOnline.com.

SpaceX plans to fly Demo-2, its first crewed test flight, in April 2019, while Boeing's Crew Test Flight is slated for mid-2019. Four NASA astronauts were selected in 2015 for training.

NASA will announce which astronauts will fly with Boeing and SpaceX at an event Friday at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The latter test demonstrated Crew Dragon's ability to land safely in an off-nominal situation, deploying only one of the system's two drogue parachutes and three of the four main parachutes. But for what it's worth, SpaceX still has to receive NASA's human-rated safety certification for the Block 5 version of its Falcon 9 rocket, including propellant tanks that were redesigned in the wake of the 2016 explosion. That might mean two NASA astronauts plus Boeing's (Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut).

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