Boeing has delayed its first unmanned test flight under the NASA Commercial Crew program, according to sources allegedly aware of the matter. The delay would be the last in a series of setbacks affecting the Space Agency program. By contrast, competitor SpaceX successfully completed its first unlicensed test flight in early March, making it a milestone ahead of Boeing.
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NASA's commercial crew program has commissioned two private carriers, Boeing and SpaceX, to develop space crew systems for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. The resulting vehicles will represent America's return to human spaceflight and lift dependence on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.
However, the program has experienced repeated delays and has led NASA to seek additional seats in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to avoid potential disruption of the ISS presence. The decision followed a report which warned that future delays in the program could jeopardize the space organization's existing scientific research.
Although SpaceX has successfully reached its unmanned test flight milestone, Boeing is facing months of delays. Sources speak of Reuters (1
Two sources claim Boeing's new unmanned test flight schedule is pushing for the start of August, the date its crew flight is currently scheduled. Although Boeing and NASA refused to comment on the report, the space agency said it would release an updated startup schedule next week. Assuming that the SpaceX project will proceed as planned, the company's own crew flight is expected to take place in July.