In a recent blog post, NASA made it clear that changes happening to leadership within the agency – specifically within the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate – are impacting the timelines to return astronauts to the International Space Station(ISS) from US soil. Agency conflicts are just the latest of several setbacks that have impacted the schedule of SpaceX’s crewed Crew Dragon launch debut.
Initially, the SpaceX Demo-2 mission set to carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS was slated to occur in the summer of 2019. That demonstration flight has since dropped off of the NASA launches and landings schedule, at least through October. SpaceX is now targeting a Demo-2 launch no earlier than December 2019 but an array of critical milestones must be completed to achieve that goal and both SpaceX and NASA have been keen to express that a crewed Crew Dragon launch in 2019 is a huge stretch.