As mentioned in a US government audit report, SpaceX and Boeing won’t be able to make manned flights to ISS (the International Space Station) in 2019. This situation might result in a gap in the Americans presence on the space station.
Back in 2014, NASA employed SpaceX and Boeing to develop rockets to fly US astronauts to the ISS starting with November 2019 when the still ongoing contract with Russia’s Soyuz would expire.
SpaceX and Boeing unlikely to make manned flights to ISS in 2019
Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent body within the US government, stated that both SpaceX and Boeing would not be ready for manned missions to the ISS in 2019.
“There may be a gap in (US) access to the ISS if the Commercial Crew Program experiences additional delays. While NASA has begun to discuss potential options, it currently does not have a contingency plan for how to ensure an uninterrupted presence on the ISS beyond 2019. It is possible that neither contractor would be ready before August 2020, leaving a potential gap in access of at least nine months,” stated the GAO’s report.
It could be difficult for NASA to obtain additional seats on Soyuz rockets
Since 2011 when NASA cut off its rocket program, the US space agency relied on Russian space program to transport US astronauts to the International Space Station. However, in 2014, NASA decided to rely on private space companies to develop rockets that would send Americans to the ISS.
But, unfortunately, according to the recent GAO report “it is possible that neither contractor would be ready before August 2020, leaving a potential gap in access of at least nine months.”
The future is gloomy for the US presence on the International Space Station because, as GAO reported, contracting new seats on Soyuz spaceships would not be possible before 2021.
As for the NASA’s contractors, Boeing will not complete its Starliner capsule before December 2019, while SpaceX won’t finish its Dragon capsule before January 2020, even though it was expected in February 2019.