CAPE CANAVERAL, Hala (AP) – NASA auditors warned Thursday that the space agency faces "significant security and technical challenges" that need to be resolved before astronauts fly in private capsules.
In its report, the NASA Inspector General noted that Boeing and Spacex were several years late in transporting the teams to the International Space Station. Private capsules are unlikely to be certified before next summer, according to the report, and NASA should set a realistic timetable to avoid jeopardizing safety.
NASA officials agreed with this and most other recommendations in the 53-page review.
Meanwhile, auditors reported that NASA paid Boeing $ 287.2 million to keep the company moving forward. Most of this overload was unnecessary, they say, a point Nasa disagrees with.
The report shows, on average, the Boeing Starliner capsule headquarters will cost $ 90m, almost double the cost of a $ 55m Driver's crew. It is based on a crew of four who fly once or twice a year.
In the event of further delays to Boeing and SpaceX, NASA is seeking to buy additional locations for Russian rockets in 2020 and 2021, another recommendation by auditors. NASA paying Russia to ship astronauts to the space station after the shuttle stopped flying in 2011; the latest price was about $ 82 million per seat.
Testelks tested the launch engines for one of its capsules on Wednesday at Cape Canaveral, an obvious success. Last April, the same test resulted in the capsule being destroyed.
The next for SpaceX – perhaps next month – is a test run of the emergency escape system during the actual launch. That would be the last major hurdle for the SpaceX flight before a pair of NASA astronauts landed at the space station sometime next year.
Boeing completed the launch of its abortion test last week in New Mexico. Only two of the three parachutes deployed, but the empty capsule still landed safely.
Boeing aims to launch Starliner – minus the crew – to the space station in mid-December. SpaceX conducted a similar test flight in March.
During a visit to NASA's Ames Research Center in Northern California on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said astronauts would launch Cape Canaveral again by spring. He did not specify which company could be the first.
Boeing and SpaceX have made significant progress over the past eight years, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin and his auditors concluded in Thursday's report.
"However, after more than two years of delays, both contractors will miss the current schedule to start flying test flights at the end of 2019," they wrote. "Solving outstanding technical challenges, security and performance testing and verification of contractors' requirements, dangers and security problems will probably take considerable time to complete."