The first flight of a SpaceX rocket was scheduled to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA has finally informed on Wednesday that the test for the said flight will finally take place on January 7th, 2019 and that the rocket is ready to lift off from Kennedy Space Center. The last time NASA launched astronauts into space was nearly a decade back. This operation of sending humans into space from U.S soil is taking place first time in nearly a decade. NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing Co. as their main contractors to send astronauts to space. SpaceX will use their Crew Dragon and Boeing Co. will use their CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for the task.
Among other things, the launch test is a big concern for the Commercial Crew Program and indisputably a milestone for the agency. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will fly for the first time atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and it will shuttle three astronauts to space. As mentioned before, NASA is taking the test very seriously as it would provide them with data on the performance of the Falcon 9, Crew Dragon capsule, and ground systems, along with an on-orbit, docking and landing operations. But NASA has not released any document or statement regarding the details of the flight path.
Even though SpaceX thought that the launch will take place in early January, NASA is a bit skeptical about the launch date. Marie Lewis, a NASA spokeswoman, said that the Demo-1 launch which is the latest test in a certification timeline under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program may be pushed back because safety, for NASA, always comes first. If the test scheduled on 7th January is successful, they may be able to send astronauts to space in June 2019. Boeing plans a similar test launch mission in March which will be followed by a crewed mission in August.