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SpaceX, Boeing Delay Commercial Crew Test Launches

This artist's concept shows a SpaceX Crew Dragon docking with the International Space Station, as it will during a mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to build a new generation of human-rated spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to the station and back to Earth, thereby expanding research opportunities in orbit. Photo: SpaceX

NASA will have to wait a bit longer to send humans to space from US soil.

The space agency pays two private companies, SpaceX and Boeing, to build and launch spacecraft that will send astronauts to the International Space Station.

But first these companies launch unmanned test flights, and those flights have been delayed. SpaceX is targeting a launch at the end of next year and Boeing will follow in June of 2018.

While NASA didn’t say why the target dates slipped, a delay was expected after an explosion earlier this year grounded the SpaceX rocket fleet. In a statement, SpaceX said the team is working to complete the final steps of that investigation.

Boeing said in a statement while there will always be a tremendous interest in key dates, astronaut safety is its primary concern.

There is a bit of a time crunch for NASA. The space agency has a contract to launch US astronauts on Russian spacecraft through the end of 2018, and there’s no indication that contract will be extended.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »