It’s going to be a few more years before the United States sends astronauts on commercial flights to the International Space Station. The NASA Office of Inspector General released its audit today on the state of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The program, which has partnered with SpaceX and Boeing to develop transport to the ISS, has continued to fall behind schedule.
“While past funding shortfalls have contributed to the delay, technical challenges with the contractors’ spacecraft designs are now driving the schedule slippages,” the report noted. These issues were related to spacecraft size and vibrations generated during launch for Boeing, and to concerns about SpaceX’s capsule taking on water during an ocean landing.
Since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011, the United States has relied on Russia’s space agency to reach the ISS. Though SpaceX has successfully transported cargo to and from the ISS, the first commercial flight carrying astronauts is unlikely to happen before late 2018, more than three years after NASA’s original goal.