Test launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft which is an unmanned spacecraft to ISS has been moved forward to 6th October from previous schedule of 17th September while its maiden manned flight has been moved to 30th December from previous date of November 30 said an industry source. This is one among several postponements of the spacecraft Starliner as previously it had been planned for August 17 which got postponed to September 17 while the manned craft was scheduled for flight to ISS on Nov 1 before it got postponed to November 30. The 1st manned flight of Starliner will have astronauts Nicole A. M. and Edward M. F. from NASA along with Christopher Ferguson who is an astronaut from Boeing.
After successful completion of both its manned and unmanned flights, NASA will certify the spacecraft as being capable of carrying out regular trips to the ISS. Starliner will take flight from Cape Canaveral by Atlas-FIVE rocket in which the first stage uses Russian engine RD180 created by NPO Energomash. Since 2011 US has not put any astronauts into space after the closure of Space Shuttle program. Delivery of cosmonauts and astronauts to the International Space Station is being done by Russian spacecraft Soyuz.
The Starliner being built by Boeing for carrying astronauts to and fro from ISS is for contracted sum of $4.2 billion that is signed on with NASA in 2014. SpaceX too has a similar contact with NASA to develop commercial crew flight worth $2.6 billion on its Crew Dragon capsule. While Crew Dragon has already carried out its unmanned trip successfully to the ISS during the month called Demo-1 it is carrying out in-flight test of the capsule’s emergency escape system. NASA has signed these commercial crew deals with private operators to bring human spaceflights back to American soil as it has not carried out this activity since 2011 when its space shuttle fleet was retired after 30 years of service.