NASA plans to launch first commercial spaceship to take astronauts to International Space Station

Illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launching atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (SpaceX)

HOUSTON – In early January, NASA plans to launch its first commercial spaceship designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.  

The first launch, without a crew, is scheduled for Jan. 7.  The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit.  The launch is planned at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  

This will be the first test flight for the commercial crew program at NASA.  

It will check out the performance of the rocket, the spacecraft, ground systems as well as everything that needs to happen in space to dock the crew carrier with the International Space Station.  

Another test flight is planned with a crew on board after this first unmanned test flight.

Boeing is also building a commercial crew vehicle called the StarLiner.  Its first unmanned test is expected early next year, followed by a crewed test on board the StarLiner.  

When proven reliable, Boeing and SpaceX would provide the taxi rides for our astronauts to the International Space Station.  In the seven years since the retirement of the space shuttle, we have relied on expensive seats on Russian rockets in order to reach the space station.