SpaceX's "Crew Dragon" capsule will be used for both launches, the second of which will send two United States astronauts to the International Space Station. 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. Neither NASA nor SpaceX explained why they are delaying the test, but we can only assume that the 35-day shutdown of the government messed with their schedule, considering many NASA employees were not on site during the shutdown.
Crew Dragon's crew-carrying demonstration is now scheduled for July, and Starliner's for no earlier than August, according to the new NASA update.
The launch would mark the first orbital flight of a private space taxi. This one, also without crew, will take place in April at the earliest.
"The uncrewed test flights will be the first time commercially-built and operated American spacecraft designed for humans will dock the space station". That launch will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Space Launch Complex 41.
"We are excited about seeing the hardware we have followed through development, integration, and ground testing move into flight".
NASA announced the delay on Wednesday, saying the additional time will "allow for completion of necessary hardware testing, data verification, remaining NASA and provider reviews as well as training of flight controllers and mission managers".
Astronauts haven't launched to orbit from American soil since July 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle fleet. "NASA has been working together with SpaceX and Boeing to make sure we are ready to conduct these test flights and get ready to learn critical information that will further help us to fly our crews safely". An "uncrewed" test is supposed to go down in April.
According to a Sputnik source, its unmanned mission is scheduled to launch in May, while its manned mission will go up on August 27. The agency is counting on its commercial crew program to begin operational crew rotation flights before the end of the year. The rocket performed a static fire test on the pad January 24 that the company said was successful. This way, the agency will no longer need to rely on the Russian Soyuz capsule.