A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes off from the Cape Canaveral station in Florida on August 7, 2018. – John Raoux / AP / SIPA
NASA announced Thursday that the first flight of a SpaceX rocket carrying two astronauts to the
International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled to take place in June 2019, which would be a historic first.
A flight aboard a ship designed by Boeing should follow in August 2019, said NASA. The calendar has seen many postponements, as is often the case in the space field. Nasa now intends to report monthly on these deadlines.
Regular six-month missions
"However, the launch dates will remain uncertain, and we anticipate that they may change as we get closer to the launches," said Phil McAlister, director of private flights to NASA. These are new devices, and the engineering teams still have a lot of work before the systems are ready to fly. "
These two flights are considered tests: the two astronauts transported by each system will spend two weeks aboard the ISS, before returning to Earth. In the long term, NASA will use SpaceX and Boeing to take astronauts to the ISS for regular missions, which last about six months.
End of contract with Russia
Before these two inhabited tests, SpaceX will perform an unmanned test in January 2019, and Boeing in March 2019. SpaceX will use its Falcon 9 rocket, at the top of which will be attached the vessel or capsule "Crew Dragon". Currently she uses a first version of the Dragon capsule to convey material to the ISS.
As for Boeing, its "Starliner" ship will be propelled into space by the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket, the historic rocket manufacturer for the US government, now a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Since 2011, NASA has been forced to buy seats on Russian Soyuz to send astronauts to the ISS. But its contract with Russia expires in November 2019, which is why it has contracted with SpaceX and Boeing, and hopes they will be ready in time.