A photograph dated December 18, 2018 shows a SpaceX Dragon capsule in a hangar at Cape Canaveral (Florida). February 6, 2019 set the date for the future test launch - March 2
In March, NASA and SpaceX are seeking to launch the first test launch of a capsule designed to deliver astronauts to the ISS. During the first flight of the Dragon crew does not participate. Now March 2 is considered the official launch date. If the demonstration is successful, then in July, two NASA astronauts will go to the second test flight on board the capsule.
It is important that this will be the first launch of American astronauts into orbit from the United States since the completion of the NASA shuttle program in 2011. In April, the first test launch of the Boeing company, which is preparing the Starliner crew, is to take place. The crew will connect only in August.
For many years, NASA postponed the commercial crew program, which had to rely on Russian missiles. But the point is that each place on the Russian capsule costs the Union $ 82 million. Cooperation between the countries will continue, because it will take a long time to complete the testing, training and security checks. NASA representatives pay SpaceX and Boeing for providing capsules and delivering to the orbital station and back to Earth. This allows the agency itself to fully concentrate on developing the Orion capsule and the SLS launch system, which will send people to the Moon and Mars.
SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the ISS since 2012, fulfilling a contract with NASA. The second supplier is Northrop Grumman. Blue Origin is also developing a crew capsule, but it is intended for short tourist flights. Virgin Galactic is developing a similar idea.