Although the first crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was supposed to take place either at the end of 2018 or early next year, Boeing won't be ready to fly the first passengers on its state-of-the-art "space taxi" until mid-2019.
In both cases, again assuming no major problems crop up, operational flights to ferry astronauts to and from the space station would begin after the test flights are complete, ending NASA's sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to carry U.S., European, Canadian and Japanese crew members to the lab.
The announcement comes two days before NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to reveal which NASA astronauts will fly on the CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon test flights.
The schedule was that Starliner would test an uncrewed flight this month and then a crewed launch in November.
"We believe the earliest time we can confidently do that will be in mid-2019 after flying an uncrewed flight test late this year or early next year". The report cited safety concerns and testing delays, and warned that future delays could interrupt the access of American astronauts to the International Space Station. Space station officials from around the world gave the "go" on Thursday for Dragon's release from the orbital complex. With all this happening you might be thinking that astronaut wardrobe is the least of NASA's concerns, but you couldn't be more wrong.
A report issued last month by a USA government auditor said Boeing and SpaceX are unlikely to be able to send astronauts to the ISS next year, resulting in a possible gap in the United States presence on the spacecraft.
Later in April, NASA trained Boeing and SpaceX teams to operate the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle created to help personnel escape the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency on launch day. "The systems will be operated in the actual environment to test it and ensure it's ready for crew".
In June, the Crew Dragon capsule for SpaceX's uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, arrived at Plum Brook Station at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio. That will include training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston as well as at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "They're verifying crew layout, doing simulations where they're actually practicing their maneuvers, and also checking out the software and the display systems, and everything else for the crew to be functioning safely in the spacecraft". Those engines are created to power up if the launch rocket suffers a mishap and would eject the Starliner crew capsule to a safe distance.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, has sought to revamp NASA's $21 billion budget to foster private-sector commercial activity in low Earth orbit and deeper forays into the solar system.