The battle to launch their first crewed space missions between SpaceX and Boeing is getting fiercer. NASA has announced a new schedule for both the companies in order to send astronauts in to space from the US.
On January 7, 2019, SpaceX’ Crew Dragon capsule will take flight for the first time to the International Space Station. The flight will be called the Demo-1 (or DM-1) and will be without a crewed. Boeing’s first uncrewed test flight will go on its maiden voyage in March 2019, almost two months after SpaceX. Both companies will have to finish the abort tests before they can take astronauts to space, which are slated for June and August for SpaceX and Boeing respectively. Back in August, NASA announced the astronauts who will be part of the crew during these missions.
Crew Dragon will lift off from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center launchpad where the Apollo mission took off for the moon in 1969. NASA believes the first operational crewed mission will happen in August 2019, while the second will take place in December.
The dates could also be changed if the results of the test flights aren’t satisfactory. Besides, a recent report from The Washington Post, NASA is conducting a safety review on both SpaceX and Boeing. The reason could be Elon Musk’s behavior at Joe Rogan’s podcast where he was seen smoking weed. Though NASA didn’t clearly mention the reason behind the review, a spokesperson told the Washington Post the probe would “ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment.”
Apart from sending astronauts to space, SpaceX is also going to send its first passenger around the Moon. Yusaku Maezawa, 42, will be the first passenger to go into space. He is a billionaire and founder of online fashion mall Zozotown. He has also reportedly bought all the other tickets on the rocket.
Maezawa is known for spending huge sums. He once reportedly bought a $110 million painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat in 2017.