Spaceflight Insider

Launch date for SpaceX’s Demo-1 flight announced

SpaceX Crew Dragon arrives at International Space Station. Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX Crew Dragon arrives at International Space Station. Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The planned launch date for the first test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft has been announced. A new name for the company’s “Big Falcon Rocket” has also been released. These bits of information help provide the first hints of a larger story—the company’s first missions that will include people.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) has had the first planned flight slip repeatedly. However, the wait might be coming to an end with an official date finally posted—Jan. 7, 2019. Demo Flight 1 will be SpaceX’s uncrewed test flight, one that could help demonstrate the viability of its entry in the CCP.

The announcement was posted on NASA’s Blog concerning CCP on Nov. 21. As is so often the case of late, the launch will take place at night. As was noted by NASASpaceflight, the mission should get underway at approximately 11:55 p.m. EST (04:55 GMT Jan. 8) and last about two weeks. The demo is planned to help certify the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon to support its first two astronauts—a flight currently expected in June of 2019 with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

If Demo Flight 1 is successful, it will pave the way for NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken to conduct the first crewed demonstration flight in June of 2019. Photo Credit: NASA

If Demo Flight 1 is successful, it will pave the way for NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken to conduct the first crewed demonstration flight in June of 2019. Photo Credit: NASA

SpaceX has groomed Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A for crewed flights and it is from this location that Demo Flight 1 will get underway. 

Under CCP, SpaceX is tasked with ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Demo Flight 1 is meant to show that Crew Dragon is ready to send astronauts to and from the orbiting outpost. The agency posted the following on their Commercial Crew Program blog regarding the mission’s Countdown Clock starting to tick:

“To meet NASA’s requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demo-1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will carry out spacecraft abort tests to demonstrate their crew escape capability during an actual on-pad, or ascent emergency. The final test flights for each company will be crew flight tests to the space station prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions.”

While SpaceX might be involved with the U.S. space agency’s efforts to regain the ability to send people to and from orbit, its founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed a new name for the Big Falcon Rocket or “BFR” (although the vehicle had a more colorful moniker that Musk has used). SpaceX has never given overly-complicated names to its offerings and the new one for BFR is no exception. It has now been christened “Starship.”

“Technically, two parts: Starhip is the spaceship/upper stage & Super Heavy is the rocket booster needed to excape Earth’s deep gravity well (not needed for other planets or moons),” Musk tweeted.

While the name might be somewhat bland, its mission includes a far more attention-grabbing goal—sending people to Mars.

SpaceX Crewed Dragon spacecraft in orbit above Earth. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider



Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

James Lunar Miner

The propellant inefficient, low 380 Isp, and Ozone Layer damaging fossil fueled and CO2 spewing “Starship” and the Mars colonies and international transportation flights across the Home Planet that are both supposed to be based on huge and ever growing fleets of such fossil fueled ‘Starships’ will most likely face increasing and serious national and international environmental and political opposition in the future.


“The carbon emissions from heavy industry and transport are among the leading contributors to human-induced climate change, and a new report released Monday finds that turning these sectors into net-zero carbon emitters is both financially viable and technologically feasible, largely with existing technologies. This ‘full decarbonization’ is achievable by 2060, or even sooner, according to the ‘Mission Possible: Reaching net zero carbon emissions from harder-to-abate sectors by mid-century’ report published by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC).”

“Net-Zero Carbon Emissions From Heavy Industry, Transportation Financially Viable: ‘Mission Possible’ Report”
By Himanshu Goenka 11/19/18

James Lunar Miner

Space launcher systems like the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Big Falcon Rocket/Starship, Soyuz-2, Soyuz-5 Super Heavy, Long March 5, Long March 9, New Glenn, Atlas V, and other similar launchers with fossil fueled rocket stages will face increasing criticism as more and more folks face forest fires and many of the other nasty and sometimes deadly consequences of our atmosphere’s ever increasing CO2 levels.


“Because of rising temperatures and more drought, the average wildfire season now lasts at least 2 1/2 months longer than it did in the early 1970s. The amount of land that has burned in the western US since 1984 is double what would have been expected without the effects of climate change.”

From: “California’s devastating wildfires are part of an
alarming trend — here’s why they’ve gotten so much worse”
By Jeremy Berke and Dana Varinsky Nov. 9, 2018

How can we efficiently increase the payload mass going beyond LEO while simultaneously significantly reducing the carbon emissions of our fossil fueled launchers?

Dewey Vanderhoff

Sorry to have to blow holes in your thesis here, but CO2 from rocket launches is not nearly the overriding issue you ramp it up to be. At least it won’t be till we start flying boosters with the same frequency as Boeing 777’s and Airbus 340’s. An empty Falcom 9 with no propellants loaded or payload/fairing attached weighs about 26,000 kilos. It weights 550,000 kilos fully fueled with a heavy payload, so the F9-FT Blk 5 burns about 450,000 kilos of RP1/LOX. By comparison a Boeing 777 can carry about 50,000 kg of JP and will consumer a slightly greater amount of outside air. So each Falcon 9 ascent uses up roughly 5 X the hydrocarbon fuel and sufficient oxygen than the big airliner. But that Being airliner will probalby make several flights per day or several hundred per year. At any given time during the busiest flight days, there are ~8,000 airliners in the sky hauling passengers and freight . Thus the amount of hydrocarbon being burned by the existing commercial airline industry and expelled into the atmosphere is many hundreds of times the volume of global rocketry.
You might be able to make a minor case for rockets burnin g non-hydrocarbon propellants…. tha nasty hydrazine used by Russian ,Chinese , and Indian base boosters, and the aluminum used in nearly all solid rocket boosters along with the tetrachlorde…
Just keep your sense of scale. It is in fact the Transportation sector that is adding vast amounts of manmade CO2 to the atmosphere, followed by the military worldwide, but rocketry is a very tiny sliver of all that.
Your congnitive dissonance in trying to link rocket booster emissions to global climate chage is a not a viable argument

Not to mention that Methane, when burned efficiently, is one of the “cleanest” of the fossil fuels. It is much cleaner than RP-1 or Jet fuel. So the BFR/ Starship will burn cleaner than existing rockets and airliners.

James Lunar Miner

Mr Elon Musk and many folks on the Internet are ignoring CO2 and Ozone Layer damage with their claims of large fleets of huge fossil fueled BFRs that would replace airliners for supposedly cheap and safe long distance passenger flights.

Perhaps more realistically, new space mission launchers with higher Isp hydrogen and oxygen burning 1st and 2nd stages will be internationally legally required in order to eliminate rocket CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The New Glenn recently switched from a methane and oxygen powered 2nd stage to a more propellant efficient and higher performing hydrogen and oxygen burning 2nd stage.

A possible tri-core version of Japan’s upcoming H3 launch vehicle (somewhat similar to the nifty hydrogen and oxygen burning Delta IV Heavy) might be one example of a future zero CO2 emissions hydrogen and oxygen powered launcher.

“H3 was designed with cheaper engines compared to H-IIA, so that manufacturing the new launch vehicle would be more cost-effective, with less risk, in a shorter period of time.”

And, “The first stage is powered by two or three LE-9 engines which uses expander bleed cycle similar to LE-5B.[8]”

From: “H3 (rocket)” Wikipedia

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