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SpaceX delays first crewed Dragon flight until 2018

Company is completing steps to return to flight after September explosion

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(SpaceX)

SpaceX has officially delayed its first crewed test flight of the Dragon capsule from 2017 to 2018 after the Sept. 1 Falcon 9 explosion, NASA said Monday.

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Dragon is designed to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral.

In a statement to News 6, SpaceX confirmed the updated test dates and said the company is continuing its investigation into the Sept. 1 explosion.

“(SpaceX) is working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight,” the company statement read.  “As this investigation has been conducted, our Commercial Crew team has continued to work closely with NASA and is completing all planned milestones for this period."

The company said the 2017 focus for Dragon will be on final testing of the propulsion and parachute systems.

NASA updated the commercial crew program flight test dates in a blog post on Monday.

SpaceX will complete a flight demonstration in November 2017 and a crewed test flight in May 2018.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is targeted for an orbital flight test in June 2018, followed by a crewed tested in August 2018, according to NASA’s schedule.

Boeing delayed the Starliner test flights by six months in October.

Both companies must test their spacecraft with crew before being used to carry working crew to the ISS and back, NASA said.

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NASA has relied on the Russian space agency since 2011, when the space shuttle program ended, to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station on its Soyuz rockets, paying $82 million a seat.

SpaceX and Boeing were both selected by NASA to return to human spaceflight from U.S. soil.

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