Upcoming schedule of Boeing & SpaceX manned capsule tests


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The next two months are going to be a busy time for both Boeing and SpaceX as they attempt to complete the last tests necessary to their respectively Starliner and Crew Dragon capsules before they each launch a manned mission to ISS.

Below is that schedule as of today:

November 4: Boeing will do a Starliner pad abort test, to be live streamed.
November 6: SpaceX will do a final static fire test of Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco abort engines.
November-December: SpaceX will do a series of parachute drop tests of Crew Dragon
December 17: Boeing will launch Starliner unmanned in a demo mission to ISS.
December (third week): SpaceX will complete a launch abort test of Crew Dragon

The article at the first link above provides a lot of detail about both companies’ abort tests.

Assuming these tests all go as planned, both companies will then have completed all engineering tests required prior to their first manned missions. As far as I can tell, the only thing standing in their way at that point will be filling out the voluminous paperwork that NASA is demanding from them.

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9 comments

  • David K

    Can’t happen soon enough. Depending on Russia to get Americans to space is a huge national security risk.

  • Dick Eagleson

    As the ISS has nothing to do with national security, no, it’s not.

    What the inability to deliver our own astronauts to our own space station absent the extortionate help of our once and again enemy is, though, is a national embarrassment and a national disgrace. That’s plenty bad enough.

  • David K

    Yes I am talking about extortion. If they say get out of “insert country here” if you want your astronauts at the ISS, I’m not sure the politicians will have the political will to say no for fear of looking bad and losing an election.

  • David

    The Russian space program has grand goals, but a shoestring budget and horrible management and corruption problems, and shrinking capabilities because of it. If they were to take extortion to that level, while it might pay off in the very short term, in the long term it would completely end their program, and it seems they know it.

  • Chris

    The interesting thing here is the “core competencies” of Boeing and SpaceX

    SpaceX gets things done with an emphasis on schedule and then cost (I think that order is correct from an outside view). Lower on the list is wading in the bureaucracy that is NASA

    Boeing is an old hand in the federal bureaucracy with closing schedule a competency that could be dull at this point.

    Seeing the task is to successfully complete the tests AND the paperwork it may be hard to see who wins first.

  • Col Beausabre

    Bob – “Assuming these tests all go as planned, both companies will then have completed all engineering tests required prior to their first manned missions”

    Won’t SpaceX still have to do an unmanned demo flight to ISS? So If all goes as planned, by New Year’s Eve Boeing will be in the lead?

    Chris – I’m putting my bet on Boeing, they have almost 90
    years of dealing with the Feds (since they got the Monomail certified in 1930 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Monomail). By now, doing the paperwork should be a smooth drill they can do in their sleep. Plus they’ll know all the tricks and short cuts and, most importantly, have contacts within the bureaucracy to smooth their way.

    Also, SpaceX has the Silicon Valley culture of “move fast and break things” going against it. I get the impression that Musk & Co and their fanboys view compliance and paperwork as bothersome details, only fit for lesser mortals, not obviously superior beings such as they. But, this ain’t the Silicon Valley version of the Wild West. (there’s a big debate within the Valley if it is actually dead, but I think we can learn from looking at history. If it’s not dead, it’s dying. Deadwood, Tombstone and Dodge City aren’t what they used to be).

    Anyway…So you’re going to break the system that you want to gain approval from? You think that you can force the bureaucracy to move at your pace? Without ticking off the very people who need to agree you’ve checked all the boxes properly? You can’t steamroll over the Government, guyz.

    I’m not saying I approve of this, but you have to realistic and learn to play by the rules or you won’t be allowed to play at all.

  • Col Beausabre: SpaceX did its unmanned demo flight to ISS back in March. Use the search box on BtB to get the details. :)

  • Mike Borgelt

    Col Beausabre: Sure went smooth with the 737 MAX didn’t it? (Not that there is anything wrong with an airplane designed to be flown by pilots instead of airplane drivers).
    “SpaceX has the Silicon Valley culture of “move fast and break things” going against it. I get the impression that Musk & Co and their fanboys view compliance and paperwork as bothersome details, only fit for lesser mortals, not obviously superior beings such as they.”
    It gets things done. “Git them bureaucrats away from that rocket and shoot it!”.
    Actually I’m sure SpaceX doesn’t care how long it takes to launch the soon to be obsolete Dragon2 as long as they get paid.

  • Edward

    Chris wrote: “I think that order is correct from an outside view

    Although this may be the correct order, SpaceX put less emphasis on schedule for its Falcon Heavy and kept an emphasis on cost. I think that there is an argument for either order, but both factors are important to the company.

    Col Beausabre “there’s a big debate within [Silicon] Valley if it is actually dead, but I think we can learn from looking at history.

    The history of the valley is one of adaptation. Originally it was a supply and maintenance station for the Spanish presidios as San Francisco and Monterey. When the Spanish abandoned California, the valley adapted and became a major agricultural center, with orchards throughout the valley. Its nickname at that time became “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight.” Later, Stanford university emphasized industrial production, and its students made that happen with aerospace companies as well as electrical and electronic technology.

    These days, very few orchards or farms remain, but The Silicon Valley is harboring not only venture capitalists but many space-related startups. Reports of the valley’s demise may be premature.

    Interestingly, SpaceX and Boeing seem to be in a race with each other only in the press. Neither of them have made much in the way of statements that they want to be the first to take man to the ISS or to become operational. In that way, I am with Mike Borgelt. The end service seems to be the main concern for each, not the prestige of being the first to fly commercially. But this makes sense. How many people can name the first commercial airline or the company to first fly paying passengers? Far fewer than can name the first man on the Moon.

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