The race between Boeing and SpaceX to launch its first manned space missions is heating up.
NASA has announced an updated program for the two companies on the way to sending astronauts into space.
On January 7, 2019, SpaceX will ship its Crew Dragon capsule on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station. This flight will be known as Demo-1 (or DM-1) and will not transport humans.
Boeing's first unmanned test flight is scheduled for March 2019, almost two months behind SpaceX.
Both companies have to complete mission abortion tests before their first manned tests, which will be held in June 2019 for SpaceX and in August for Boeing.
Crew Dragon will take off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the same launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, where the Apollo 11 mission took off for the moon in 1969.
NASA now expects the first commercial crewmember to be operational in August 2019 and the second in December. These dates may change depending on the results of the test flights, but it looks like we are very close to seeing real commercial space ships carrying real passengers out of this world.