(UPI) — NASA has set a Jan. 7 dated for an sending an unmmanned SpaceX capsule on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station.
Crew Dragon’s commercial flight will be known as Demo-1 or DM-1, NASA said in a news release earlier this week.
Crew Dragon will lift off from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center’s Complex 39A launchpad, where the Apollo 11 mission took off for the moon in 1969. SpaceX, which is owned by Elon Musk, now leases the launch pad.
In an updated timetable, NASA is planning the first operational mission with commercial crew to take place next June and a second one in December. The Crew Dragon can seat three passengers.
A SpaceX competitor, Boeing, is planning an uncrewed Orbital Flight Test next March and a manned flight in August.
Both companies must complete abort tests before their first crewed tests.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the first two scheduled astronauts to fly the new spacecraft, were fitted with SpaceX spacesuits and checked out a mockup earlier this month.
Since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011, the only rides for astronauts has been aboard Russia’s Soyuz.
In October, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin had to make an emergency landing after the rocket booster experienced an abnormal separation. A manned flight is set for Dec. 3.
On Nov. 17, NASA launched about 7,400 pounds of cargo for the space station. aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus on an Antares 230 rocket from Virgia.