Lack of spaceships may see no astronauts on ISS after 2019

2018-01-19 14:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - NASA's strict safety protocols for Boeing and SpaceX may lead to astronauts having no means of transport to the International Space Station (ISS) after 2019. 

Business Insider reports that while the space agency can still send astronauts on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft with high costs, its flying ability ends in 2019. NASA contracted SpaceX and Boeing to build cheaper and safer transport spaceships in 2011, with a start date in 2017, but both companies have been unable to meet the crew safety standard.

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So far they have received billions of dollars for developing their spaceships. Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, but they need to meet a 1-in-200 chance of killing astronauts in an accident.

These issues in delays were discussed in a White House subcommittee hearing which has to approve NASA's choice of contractor before appointment. According to NASA's blog, dates have been set for uncrewed and crewed test flight for both companies. Both aim to do their uncrewed testing in August, with crewed tests set for November and December.

If they pass the tests and receive their certification, they will finally be allowed to send astronauts to ISS after the retirement of Soyuz.

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While the companies sort out the kinks of the spaceships, commercial crews are training with mixed reality technology to practice their return to Earth, with Boeing landing on land and SpaceX in the Atlantic Ocean. The mixed reality include microgravity laboratories, augmented reality headsets and test models of what the spaceships will look like.

It does appear though that if NASA is struggling to send astronauts to space, space tourism may still be further away then we thought.

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