"NASA project manager Brent Robertson said it would be ". a NASA first, an industry first, and a world first".
Under the new schedule, SpaceX will fly an uncrewed demonstration mission in November 2018, three months later than the previous schedule released by NASA early this year. The first test flight with a crew on board is targeted for "mid-2019", NASA said. Crew for Boeing's Crew Flight Test and SpaceX's Demo-2 flights will each include at least a flight commander and pilot aboard to test out the systems.
Also, the organization will declare the crew tasks for the foremost post-certification operation and crew flight tests for both SpaceX and Boeing, in a press conference to be chaired over by Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator.
NASA TV is broadcasting video of the announcement live from Texas.
NASA wants to stop relying on Russian Federation to get American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
The announcement is a big deal because the last American crew-carrying spacecraft - NASA's fleet of four space shuttle orbiters - retired in July 2011.
A second round of test flights - manned flights - will follow the inaugural flights. The report cited safety concerns and testing delays, and warned that future delays could interrupt the access of American astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA and Boeing announced earlier this year they were studying it, but Mulholland said August 1 no decision would be made about using the test flight in that fashion until next year.
The news, announced on NASA's Commercial Crew program blog, doesn't come as a surprise.
Tomorrow, NASA will announce the chosen crew for the first Commercial Crew flights and probably add more information on Boeing's and SpaceX flights. Proving that SpaceX can safely fly NASA personnel would put Musk, the company's chief executive officer, closer to his ultimate goal of carrying human colonists to Mars. In 2015, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams were announced as the first commercial crew astronauts. "If NASA does not develop options for ensuring access to the ISS in the event of further Commercial Crew delays, it will not be able to ensure that the US policy goal and objective for the ISS will be met", the report argued. "After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions". It'll be equipped with four windows providing astronauts with breathtaking views of the Earth, our moon and the solar system. Initially Congress did not provide as much money as NASA requested because of skepticism that the program would succeed.