NASA announced the first four astronauts who will launch aboard Crew Dragon (also known as Dragon 2) to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight capability to the United States for the first time since the Space Shuttle Program was retired in 2011.
Crew Dragon 2's first non-piloted test flight to the ISS is planned to occur in January 2019, while its first crewed flight to the ISS is planned to occur in June 2019. This mission, currently targeted for April 2019, will liftoff from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the astronauts aboard Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first two NASA astronauts to fly in the Dragon spacecraft.
The spacecraft is produced in two variants, Crew Dragon 2, a human rated capsule capable of carrying up to seven astronauts, and Cargo Dragon 2, an updated replacement for the original Dragon. These are new spacecraft, and the engineering teams have a lot of work to do before the systems will be ready to fly.
The timetable for both launches has already been postponed several times, but Nasa said it would now be providing monthly updates on deadlines.
Nasa is depending on the success of both missions as its contract with the Russian space agency expires in November 2019.