NASA confirms delays in Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew flights

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The setback comes as Boeing is entrenched in a competition with Elon Musk's SpaceX to deliver astronauts to the space station, replacing the Russian rockets now used for that objective.

Now, however, the SpaceX uncrewed flight is scheduled for November 2018 and its crewed successor for April 2019 - edging in front of Boeing's planned launches.

NASA plans to announce the astronauts who will make the first flights aboard the Dragon and CST-100 during a presentation Friday at the Johnson Space Center.

NASA TV is broadcasting video of the announcement live from Texas.

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Each company must launch an uncrewed test flight and then a crewed test flight prior to certification by NASA for the vehicles to begin operational flights. The survey helped ensure crew members will have acceptable visibility as they prepare to launch aboard Boeing's Starliner spacecraft on the Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station. On the right, NASA astronauts conduct a fully-suited exercise in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner mock-up trainer in early May at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp is set to beat Boeing Co in the battle to be the first company to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station.

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. That modification is meant to "optimize the program flow", said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and commercial crew program manager, noting that the abort system is not needed for the uncrewed flight test.

However, both companies still have to prove that their vehicles can fly to the ISS and return safely to Earth.

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On August 3, the space agency will declare the astronauts consigned to team the foremost flight tests and assignments of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, and start a new period in American spaceflights, as said by NASA in a statement. "Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demo-1 for SpaceX".

Four of the eight astronauts will nearly certainly be Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley, and Sunita "Suni" Williams.

Boeing has pushed back the launch test of its astronaut capsule for another six months, according to CNBC.

NASA's goal in collaborating with Boeing and SpaceX is to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from station on the companies' spacecraft. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will begin at 11 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency's website.

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NASA's updated timeline did not provide reasons for the delays.

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