NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has made significant progress in recent months towards its first crewed flights. The missions will be the first orbital crewed launches from the United States since the ending of the Space Shuttle program. In two separate statements released on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (NASA ASAP) provided insight into the program’s status.
The Commercial Crew Program features two providers, Boeing and SpaceX, who are developing crew transportation vehicles.
Boeing Starliner Status
In the final months of 2019, Boeing’s Starliner performed the two uncrewed flight tests necessary under its contract with NASA before the vehicle’s first crewed flight.
The first test was the pad abort, occurring on Nov. 2. The test was successful – meeting all the required test objectives – despite one of the capsule’s three main parachutes failing to deploy.
The hiccup was traced to a main parachute not being properly secured to its pilot chute.
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“Additional tests and inspections have been added to the procedures to prevent a reoccurrence of the problem,” stated NASA ASAP in the panel’s annual report, which was released on Tuesday.