Successes in the SpaceX and Boeing crew program will enable NASA to resume the ability to launch astronauts into space from their own territory. And if the company Ilona Mask has already completed the first test flight, then Boeing shifted the launch schedule.
NASA Backup Plan
NASA representatives are insured as best they can, so they signed agreements for the development of space crew programs with two companies at once: SpaceX and Boeing. The first ship Dragon 2 (Crew Dragon) Ilona Mask managed to start on March 2, 2019 to the ISS with a dummy on board and return to Earth on March 8.
The first flights are designed to test technology, therefore, are performed automatically and do not have real people on board. Astronauts will test the spacecraft in the summer, after which flights will become regular.
The Bosting CST-100 Starliner crewed model was supposed to start without a crew in April, completing the first test flight without astronauts, so that in summer they could also launch the first crew. This would allow both companies to go on developing at almost the same level. Recall that the contract with Boeing cost NASA 4.2 billion dollars.
Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew model
On March 20, it was reported that the space crew CST-100 Starliner would not go to the ISS in April. His first test unmanned launch shifted to August (tentatively on August 17). What happened? Representatives of the company have not yet commented on anything, but cite technical reasons during preliminary tests as well as errors in planning the date on the launch pad in Canadian Air Force (Florida) as reasons.
The flight with the astronauts (Edward Fink, Christopher Ferguson and Nicole Aunapu Mann) was originally planned to take place on August 27, if the April launch goes well. Now the timing shift will touch this moment.
Recall that since the closure of the American shuttle program (2011), the United States has been forced to use Russian services to launch astronauts on the ISS using the Soyuz spacecraft. The successes of private American space companies will allow them to regain their launching privileges from their native land and increase the number of launches themselves, reducing their cost.
Dragon 2 Ilona Mask will receive certification for permanent flights from NASA after the second successful launch with people. But the US space agency understands that unanticipated delays may occur in both companies. Therefore, NASA again insured, deciding to purchase space for flights on Soyuz ships in 2019-2020s, to ensure the presence of astronauts on the ISS in the next 2 years.