SpaceX Falcon 9 Elon Musk
The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket launched by SpaceX on a cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Jan. 10, 2015. Mike Brown—Reuters

SpaceX, Boeing on Track to Get Astronauts into Space by 2017

Jan 27, 2015

Boeing and SpaceX expect to be in a position to launch astronauts into space by 2017, NASA announced Monday.

At a press conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA said the two companies were on track to fly U.S. astronauts to the ISS within two years. Boeing and SpaceX have already completed some of the preliminary testing necessary to get vessels in orbit.

"It’s an incredible testament to American ingenuity and know-how, and an extraordinary validation of the vision we laid out just a few years ago as we prepared for the long-planned retirement of the space shuttle," said Charlie Bolden, NASA administrator, according to a press release.

The two companies were selected to build vessels under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will help the U.S. launch astronauts into low-earth orbit and get them to the International Space Station.

NASA retired its space shuttle program in 2011 and has been relying on Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, to get astronauts into space ever since—at a cost of $71 million per seat.

"I don't ever want to write another check to Roscosmos after 2017,” Bolden said Monday, according to NBC News. "If we can make that date, I'll be a happy camper."

Boeing expects to conduct a crewless test flight in April 2017 and one with a test pilot by that July. SpaceX said Monday they will conduct a crewless flight in late 2016, and get a pilot in the air by early 2017. Eventually, the program is also expected to open a pathway to getting private citizens into space.

PHOTOS: See SpaceX's Biggest Milestones

SpaceX embarked on its first deep space mission with the launch of this Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket on Feb. 11, 2015 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., after two previous failed attempts.
SpaceX embarked on its first deep space mission with the launch of this Falcon 9 rocket on Feb. 11, 2015 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., after two previous failed attempts. Onboard is the Deep Space Climate Observatory, which will head 1 million miles from Earth to watch for incoming geomagnetic storms that could trigger power outages on our planet.John Raoux—AP
SpaceX embarked on its first deep space mission with the launch of this Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket on Feb. 11, 2015 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., after two previous failed attempts.
On May 29, 2014, SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk (not pictured) unveiled the company's first manned spacecraft, Dragon V2, at a press conference in Hawthorne, Calif., on May 29, 2014.
A rocket carrying the SpaceX Dragon ship lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on April 18, 2014.
Falcon 9 awaits its upcoming launch in SpaceX's hangar with landing legs attached on March 12, 2014.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches with Thailand’s Thaicom 6 satellite on Jan. 6, 2014 from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-40 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 and SES 8 launch from SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Nov. 28, 2013.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rolls out of the hangar for SES 8 on Nov. 28, 2013.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a small science satellite for Canada is launched from a newly refurbished launch pad in Vandenberg Air Force Station in California, on Sept. 29, 2013.
SpaceX's reusable rocket prototype, Grasshopper, completes a 325 meter hop on June 14, 2013 before smoothly landing back on the pad.
SpaceX's fairing on May 27, 2013.
SpaceX's Dragon on the recovery boat on April 13, 2013.
SpaceX's Dragon is grappled by the International Space Station on April 13, 2013.
SpaceX's F9 rocket leaves the hangar at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on March 8, 2013.
Nine Merlin engines for the inaugural Falcon 9 flight, ready for integration onto the thrust structure, on March 8, 2013.
From left: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk view the historic Dragon capsule
SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule floats in the Pacific Ocean off of Baja California on May 31, 2012.
SpaceX's Dragon commercial cargo craft is berthed to the International Space Station on May 25, 2012.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft blasts off from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 22, 2012.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 22, 2012.
SpaceX'S Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 8, 2010.
From left: U.S. President Barack Obama and Head of SpaceX Elon Musk tour Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 15, 2010.
On April 22, 2008, Musk's company landed NASA's launch services contract for Falcon 1 and 9 rockets. Here, the SpaceX factory in Los Angeles is shown on Nov. 21, 2008.
SpaceX embarked on its first deep space mission with the launch of this Falcon 9 rocket on Feb. 11, 2015 at Cape Canaver
... VIEW MORE

John Raoux—AP
1 of 22
TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.