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NASA confirms new schedule for space taxis

Dragon capsules
An artist’s conception shows SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship docking with the International Space Station, plus a cargo-carrying version of the Dragon in the foreground. (SpaceX Illustration via NASA)

NASA today laid out a newly stretched-out schedule for flying astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil, with SpaceX’s first such flight set for no earlier than next April.

The space agency also confirmed Boeing’s plan to put off its first crewed space taxi mission until mid-2019, and geared up to announce who’d be on the first space taxi flights for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as well as Boeing’s Starliner.

Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson, who commanded NASA’s last space shuttle mission in 2011, appears to be a sure thing for the first Starliner crew, based on advance reports. Other crew members for the first flights are likely to include four astronauts selected back in 2015: Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams.

NASA is due to live-stream the announcement from Johnson Space Center in Texas at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) Aug. 3, with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine presiding.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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