Hawthorne-based SpaceX’s planned test flight of a capsule designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station was pushed back Wednesday by a week, with NASA officials saying liftoff is now set for March 2.
SpaceX had been planning a Feb. 23 launch of its Crew Dragon capsule — an upgraded version of the Dragon capsule it has been using to shuttle supplies to the space station.
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.”
Boeing, which is also contracting with NASA to carry astronauts to the space station, was planning a March test of its Starliner capsule, but that flight was pushed back Wednesday to no earlier than April.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon will be launched toward the space station by one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets. The company successfully test-fired the rocket with Crew Dragon aboard in early January at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Boeing’s Starliner will be propelled by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, which will also be launched from Cape Canaveral.
“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,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “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. We always learn from tests.”
If the demonstration flights to the space station are successful, SpaceX is scheduled to conduct a flight with astronauts aboard in July, with Boeing’s crewed test flight coming no earlier than August.
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