"After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions", NASA communications specialist Stephanie Martin wrote in a blog post. In speeches, he's fond of predicting that the first person to step foot on the Red Planet will get there in a Boeing rocket. Now, SpaceX is targeting November for its inaugural Crew Dragon test flight.
"The mission profile will be determined by NASA", he said of the crewed test flight.
Although NASA has not yet said which astronauts will be assigned to these historic first flights, four astronauts have already been working closely with Boeing and SpaceX in the testing and development of their capsules.
NASA TV is broadcasting video of the announcement live from Texas.
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NASA will announce which astronauts will fly with Boeing and SpaceX at an event Friday at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The announcement is a big deal because the last American crew-carrying spacecraft - NASA's fleet of four space shuttle orbiters - retired in July 2011.
Among the options being considered by NASA is to use the crewed flight test as a crew rotation flight by adding a third astronaut to the mission and extending its stay from two weeks to as long as six months. Anyone now assigned to a space mission also won't be picked for the Boeing and SpaceX flights, NASA told Business Insider. They're both the result of NASA's Commercial Crew Program: a almost 10-year-long, $8-billion effort to maintain access to orbit for USA astronauts. Proving that SpaceX can safely fly NASA personnel would put Musk, the company's chief executive officer, closer to his ultimate goal of carrying human colonists to Mars. Experts believe that with the latest complications, the first uncrewed flight test will take place at the end of 2018 - the beginning in 2019 and the manned flight test will take place in mid-2019.
To certify that the vehicles are ready to be used by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner must pass three test missions: one without a crew and two with a crew.
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SpaceX carried out a pad abort test of its Crew Dragon vehicle in May 2015.
"During the startup of that test, all engines responded nominally", said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's commercial crew programs, during a conference call.
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The NASA statement did not disclose reasons for either company's delays, and SpaceX did not respond to questions about its revised schedule.