A closer look at SpaceX's and Boeing's Commercial Crew Spacecraft

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SpaceX and Boeing have been working on their space taxi programs for almost four years, with the aim of transporting astronauts to and from the space station for NASA.

Last month, news broke that Starliner's launch-abort engines cut off during a test fire's cool-down phase.

Today, John Mulholland, Vice President and Program Manager for Boeing's commercial crew program, made CST-100 Starliner's delay official. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will launch on its first uncrewed flight test on the ULA Atlas V rocket.

While the space agency has remained secretive about who might get picked for the honor of taking the first rides on board Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, perhaps so as not to spoil the great surprise, NASA officials did tell the Business Insider that only astronauts who are not now assigned to a space mission are eligible for the test flights of the brand-new spacecraft.

At the same time, rival company SpaceX is still on track for the August launch of DM-1, the unmanned demonstration mission of its Crew Dragon capsule, note the sources. "SpaceX is targeting November 2018 for Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission and April 2019 for Crew Dragon's second demonstration mission, which will carry two NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station".

SpaceX continues to test its systems and integrate its launch infrastructure to support the Crew Dragon capsule.

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An artist's conception shows SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship docking with the International Space Station, plus a cargo-carrying version of the Dragon in the foreground.

NASA is about to name the first astronauts ever to fly commercial spaceships.

SpaceX has not publicly revised its Crew Dragon schedule. "The systems will be operated in the actual environment to test it and ensure it's ready for crew". If history is any guide, the crews taking the spotlight on Friday will have even more time to train. This test demonstrated the system's ability to land the spacecraft safely in the unlikely event of a low altitude abort. There, the spacecraft underwent testing in the In-Space Propulsion Facility-the world's only facility capable of testing full-scale upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulated high-altitude conditions.

"Tomorrow we will meet the astronauts who will be the first to fly the CST-100 Starliner". Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana will join Bridenstine and representatives from Boeing and SpaceX to introduce the crews, according to the news release. SpaceX also completed another major round of astronaut and operations team training and simulations in preparation for the Demo-2 mission.

NASA plans to announce its final decision on the crews - two astronauts for each of the four crewed test flights - on Friday morning.

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