NASA and SpaceX are now aiming for a March debut of the first capsule from a private company designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.
No one will be on board for the crew Dragon’s inaugural test flight to the orbiting outpost.
Officials on Wednesday set March 2 as the latest launch date. If the demo goes well, two NASA astronauts will take a test flight in July aboard the SpaceX capsule.
It would be the first launch of US astronauts into orbit, from US soil, since NASA’s shuttle program ended in 2011. President Donald Trump mentioned the upcoming milestone in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
Boeing, meanwhile, is shooting for an April launch of its first Starliner capsule without a crew. The first Starliner flight with astronauts would be August at best.
NASA’s commercial crew program has been delayed repeatedly over the years, forcing a lengthy, expensive reliance on Russian rockets. Each seat on a Russian Soyuz capsule has cost NASA as much as $82 million.