WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. space agency NASA has confirmed that the first crewed launches of new commercial spaceships built by Boeing and SpaceX have been delayed from 2017 to 2018.
Under the so-called Commercial Crew Program, NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to develop spaceships that will launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil. Previously, the two companies hoped their spacecraft could be ready for operational flights in 2017.
NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Martin said in a blog this week that SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner "are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation," but their first crewed flights will have to be delayed.
"To meet NASA's (safety and mission) requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station," Martin wrote.
"Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demonstration Mission 1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation mission."
According to the current schedule revealed by NASA, the first uncrewed flights of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner SpaceX's Crew Dragon have been shifted to June 2018 and November 2017, respectively, while their first crewed launches have been pushed back to August 2018 and May 2018.