Boeing, SpaceX unlikely to make manned flights to ISS in 2019

Space Station
The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-132 crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Credit: NASA/Crew of STS-132

Boeing and SpaceX are unlikely to be able to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) next year, according to a US government audit report, resulting in a possible gap in the US presence on the spacecraft.

The two companies were engaged by the US agency NASA in 2014 to develop rockets that could transport to the space when the current contract with Russia's Soyuz expires in November 2019.

But neither company is expected to be ready to carry out manned flights by that date because of various delays in certifying their programs, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report published Wednesday.

"There may be a gap in (US) access to the ISS if the Commercial Crew Program experiences additional delays," the GAO said.

"While NASA has begun to discuss potential options, it currently does not have a contingency plan for how to ensure an uninterrupted presence on the ISS beyond 2019," it said.

"It is possible that neither contractor would be ready before August 2020, leaving a potential gap in access of at least nine months," the GAO said.

The report said the United States could seek to obtain additional Soyuz seats but that may prove difficult.

"The process for manufacturing the spacecraft and contracting for those seats typically takes three years—meaning additional seats would not be available before 2021," it said.

NASA ended the US space shuttle program in 2011 and has relied on Russian rockets since then to carry US astronauts to the space station.

Boeing, which is developing a manned capsule called Starliner, is not expected to be certified until December 2019 instead of the January 2019 target date.

Certification of SpaceX's Dragon capsule is not expected until at least January 2020 instead of February 2019.

There are currently three Americans, one German and two Russians aboard the , where astronauts generally stay five or six months.

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Citation: Boeing, SpaceX unlikely to make manned flights to ISS in 2019 (2018, July 13) retrieved 22 October 2019 from
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Jul 13, 2018
These companies ever hear of fast tracking??

Jul 13, 2018
These companies ever hear of fast tracking??

The buzz is that the main factor is that NASA is delayed, they have not anticipated their own workload.

Jul 13, 2018
In my opinion, the most likely cause of the delays is that the equipment worked. Usually. No one can guarantee that it will work 100% without failure. 100% of the time.

After all the promises and hoopla and publicity? The people involved have officially adopted a go-slow policy. Try and resolve potential problems and minimize any risks.

Everyone who contributes to success wants to share the acclaim. But no one wants to share the blame for failures.

This is the measure of a man. Not the glory or the riches. Rather how he endures failure and accepts the lessons taught.

Making scapegoats of the responsible persons only results in successors who will refuse to stick their necks out. Cover-up with secrecy errors and accidents. Better to accept mediocrity than gamble careers with risky projects.

Jul 13, 2018
I think this article is mixing apples with oranges. Certification of the vehicles is what will likely not happen before 2020. However, there are three crewed Dragon missions to the ISS planned BEFORE certification. Hard to certify a crew vehicle that never flew with crew! First of those is scheduled to happen in January 2019, with other two over the course of the year. They may slip somewhat but we are likely going to see multiple crewed flights to the station next year.

Jul 14, 2018
I think there are only two reasons that could result in a hold up of the Falcon 9. 1: The government getting in the way with needless road blocks. 2: A catastrophic disasters like when their rocket blew up on the pad in 2016.

I think it boils down to: "no one will make 2019 because we won't be issuing our approvals util 2020." A self fulfilling prophesy.

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