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Schedule for Dragon/Starliner manned flights revised

Capitalism in space: NASA has released a new updated planning schedule for the manned flights of both SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner manned capsules.

Boeing’s first unmanned demo flight of Starliner is now set for September 17, 2019. This will be followed by SpaceX’s first manned Dragon flight, scheduled for November 15, 2019. Boeing will then follow with its first manned Starliner flight on November 30, 2019.

These are considered target dates. I have great doubts that the Starliner schedule will proceed as described, while SpaceX’s schedule is more likely.

The article also had this interesting tidbit about the upcoming launch schedule of Sierra Nevada’s unmanned reusable cargo ship Dream Chaser:

According to the document, the first flight of Dream Chaser will take place in a planned September 2021 timeframe and will see the vehicle remain berthed to the International Space Station for up to 75 days before returning to Earth to land on a runway for reuse.

There are clearly issues with all these commercial projects. For example, the GAO today released a new report citing the numerous delays in this commercial manned program and calling for NASA to come up with a more complete back-up plan.

Nonetheless, the 2020s have the potential to be the most exciting decade in space exploration since the 1960s. If all goes even close to these plans, the U.S. will have three operating manned spacecraft (Dragon, Starliner, Orion), two reusable cargo spacecraft (Dragon, Dream Chaser), one non-reusable (Cygnus), and a plethora of launch companies putting up payloads of all kinds, from planetary missions to basic commercial satellites numbering in the thousands.

Much could happen to prevent all this. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing will.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • TGeorge

    May I suggest adding to that list at the end: Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerosace’s station, more broad commercial access to ISS, hopefully commercial access to the lunar orbits and surface – that is if Mr Bezos gets his way aaand on top of that, if we’re lucky and all goes well a true Mars Express, courtesy of Mr Musk.
    Did I go too far? God, I hope not.

    Thank you for your work and may God give you strength to keep on fighting the good fight.

  • Edward

    TGeorge has a point. By mentioning the other launch companies, planetary missions, and commercial satellites, you went beyond the scope of the GAO report and the ISS access issue.

    Not only can we expect Begelow space habitats, considering that Bigelow has been ready for a decade, now, but we could potentially see space stations from Axiom and Ixion. We certainly should see plenty of commercial companies supplying lunar exploration rovers and landers. Commercialization of some weather data collection is also proceeding, so I would expect that to be at least a small industry by the end of the next decade.

    NASA has expected to land men on the Moon again by the end of the decade, and with Trump and Pence’s emphasis on that goal, we really should see NASA back on the Moon by then. If NASA does not make it to the Moon, then either Blue Origin or SpaceX potentially could do it by then.

    Musk is eager to get to Mars, and if all goes even close to his plans, SpaceX could have boots on Mars by the end of the decade.

    The 2020s are somewhat predictable, as we already know about several projects that commercial and government organizations want to accomplish. With these and more endeavors in work, the 2030s should be even more exciting. I expect lunar water mining and other lunar material usage by 2040. By then there should also be plenty of asteroid exploration in order to get materials with even less propellant usage than from the Moon. Lunar mining companies may even be working on mass drivers, by then, in order to compete with the potential asteroid miners.

    Or did I go too far? I hope not.

  • To Edward and TGeorge: I was trying in my summary to refer only to those projects that seemed to me to be the most likely to fly. I also did not mean it be all encompassing. I agree entirely that there are many more possibilities just over the horizon.

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