Now, both SpaceX and Boeing are each working on spacecraft that will enable NASA to send astronauts with American spacecraft.
Later in April, NASA trained Boeing and SpaceX teams to operate the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle created to help personnel escape the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency on launch day. Proving that SpaceX can safely fly NASA personnel would put Musk, the company's chief executive officer, closer to his ultimate goal of carrying human colonists to Mars.
SpaceX carried out a pad abort test of its Crew Dragon vehicle in May 2015.
The spacecraft will depart the ISS, along with critical scientific research, at 12.37 p.m. EDT and splash down in the Pacific Ocean at about 6.17 p.m., NASA said in a statement.
During the manned tests, the astronauts will be able to use the displays inside the spacecraft, communicate with mission control and practise manual controls during flight.
Observing the climate should be NASA's "top priority", according to 43 percent of those surveyed, who chose from six possible options.
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The schedule was that Starliner would test an uncrewed flight this month and then a crewed launch in November. The first astronauts to fly to the International Space Station aboard privately developed and built commercial spacecraft will be announced by NASA today.
The agency released the revised schedule with little fanfare ahead of a planned August 3 announcement at the Johnson Space Center of the astronauts that will fly the two companies' crewed demonstration missions, as well as on the first post-certification, or operational, missions by each company.
Numerous team members leading the unique public-private partnership believe the agency is on the cusp of something life changing with its Commercial Crew Program.
"NASA is continuing to assess multiple scenarios to ensure continued US access to the International Space Station", the space agency told Bloomberg. "The systems will be operated in the actual environment to test it and ensure it's ready for crew". That will include training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston as well as at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX has not publicly revised its Crew Dragon schedule. Falcon 9's first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August.
NASA is about to name the first astronauts ever to fly commercial spaceships. Boeing will conduct a manned Starliner flight in mid-2019.
At one point last year, it was expected that it would have its first uncrewed test flight in June of this year, followed by a crewed flight this month. Space station officials from around the world gave the "go" on Thursday for Dragon's release from the orbital complex.