Boeing delays test flights for U.S. human space program by months : sources

Boeing has postponed its first uncrewed flight to the International Space Station under NASA’s human spaceflight program by at least three months.  Industry sources said on Wednesday that it has also pushed its crewed flight until November.

It was reported last month that NASA has warned Boeing and its rival contractor SpaceX of design and safety concerns the companies need to address before it starts flying humans to space.

Boeing’s 1st test flight was slated for April but it has been pushed to August.  This was confirmed by two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The new schedule means that Boeing’s crewed mission which was initially scheduled for August will be delayed until November.

A Boeing spokesman refused to comment on this matter.

A NASA spokesman also declined to comment much but said a new update to the launch schedule would be posted next week.

NASA is paying SpaceX and Boeing around $6.8 billion to build rocket and capsule launch systems to return astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States soil for the first time since America’s Space Shuttle program went dark in 8 years ago in 2011.

SpaceX’s unmanned capsule completed a 6-day round-trip mission to the International Space Station earlier this month. The astronaut flight is planned for July.

The United States has relied on Russia for rides to the space station for years. The clock is now ticking as there are no seats available for the U.S. crew on the Russian spacecraft after 2019 given production schedules and other major factors.

NASA said that it was considering paying for two more seats to the space station for autumn of this year and spring of the next to ensure U.S. access.