Boeing crew-capsule mission delayed after abort engines fail in test

That modification is meant to "optimize the program flow", said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and commercial crew program manager, noting that the abort system is not needed for the uncrewed flight test.

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

Each company must launch an uncrewed test flight and then a crewed test flight prior to certification by NASA for the vehicles to begin operational flights. In particular, it is noted that the test was carried out emergency rescue crew. SpaceX's is the Crew Dragon launched on SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.

Boeing, which is working to correct problems discovered during a recent test of its capsule's abort system, plans to launch its CST-100 "Starliner" capsule on an unpiloted test flight late this year or early in 2019 using a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

NASA estimates have predicted even greater delays than what the agency formally announced August 2.

NASA is due to live-stream the announcement from Johnson Space Center in Texas at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) Friday, with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine presiding.

The announcement is a big deal because the last American crew-carrying spacecraft - NASA's fleet of four space shuttle orbiters - retired in July 2011. After that, the companies will become eligible for many years' and billions of dollars' worth of future NASA missions.

Boeing announced today that the uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle will slip to the end of 2018 or early 2019, and the crewed test flight will not take place until mid-2019.

If this second test is successful, Boeing will launch Spacecraft 2 along with its first passengers toward the middle of 2019. Proving that SpaceX can safely fly NASA personnel would put Musk, the company's chief executive officer, closer to his ultimate goal of carrying human colonists to Mars.

Boeing has also developed a state-of-the-art spacecraft, the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner. "After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions". In 2015, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams were announced as the first commercial crew astronauts.

The other four astronauts that NASA has selected, however, aren't yet publicly known.

NASA is making crew assignments now for the Boeing Crew Flight Test and SpaceX Demo-2 to support flight training as we return to launching our astronauts from American soil. Initially Congress did not provide as much money as NASA requested because of skepticism that the program would succeed.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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