The latest NASA Flight Planning Integration Panel (FPIP) report has revealed that SpaceX is tentatively scheduled to launch a crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on November 15, 2019. The new launch date was revealed by NASASpaceflight.com’s Chris Gerbhardt on Twitter late yesterday.
SpaceX launched an uncrewed Crew Dragon mission to the ISS in March 2019. With the successful completion of the mission five days later, the company looked to be on track to launch a crewed mission before the end of the year.
On April 20, the Crew Dragon recovered from the first mission suffered a catastrophic anomaly during testing resulting in the destruction of the vehicle. NASA and SpaceX quickly implemented an accident investigation to find the cause of the explosion, an investigation that is not yet concluded. As a result, many believed that it was unlikely SpaceX would launch a crewed mission before the end of the year.
The FPIP report appears to contradict this belief. However, many have pointed out that the date is likely to ensure that there is a plan in place if the investigation is concluded with the best case scenario. It is not an indication of how the investigation is progressing or endorsement of the Crew Dragon’s readiness to carry astronauts.
In addition to the November 15 SpaceX Crew Dragon launch date, the FPIP report also revealed the likely uncrewed and crewed launch dates of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. The uncrewed test flight is expected to be launched on September 17 with the crewed mission following on November 30.