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

July 13, 2018
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.

Explore further: Report: NASA needs backup plan as US crew launches slip (Update)

Related Stories

NASA calls on SpaceX to send astronauts to ISS

November 20, 2015

SpaceX received orders Friday from the US space agency to send astronauts to the International Space Station in the coming years, helping restore US access to space, NASA said.

Recommended for you

Brown dwarf detected in the CoRoT-20 system

July 16, 2018

An international group of astronomers has discovered a new substellar object in the planetary system CoRoT-20. The newly identified object was classified as a brown dwarf due to its mass, which is greater than that of the ...

'X'-ploring the Eagle Nebula and 'Pillars of Creation'

July 13, 2018

The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16, contains the young star cluster NGC 6611. It also the site of the spectacular star-forming region known as the Pillars of Creation, which is located in the southern portion of the ...

Observatories team up to reveal rare double asteroid

July 13, 2018

New observations by three of the world's largest radio telescopes have revealed that an asteroid discovered last year is actually two objects, each about 3,000 feet (900 meters) in size, orbiting each other.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2018
These companies ever hear of fast tracking??
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3 / 5 (2) 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.
rrwillsj
5 / 5 (1) 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.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (1) 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.
Daein
not rated yet 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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.