The report blames commercial crew delays from Boeing and SpaceX, neither of whom are likely to be certified for regular flights to the ISS by the summer. SpaceX will have a certification review in January while Boeing will have to wait until the following month. The report concludes “final vehicle certification for both contractors will likely be delayed at least until summer 2020 based on the number of ISS and CCP [commercial crew programme] certification requirements that remain to be verified and validated.”

Space News report launch abort systems and parachutes are the biggest issues for both companies.

Only in April, a parachute test failure by SpaceX “contributed to at least a 3-month delay in SpaceX’s crewed test flight.”

Boeing saw one of their three parachutes fail to open in a test earlier this month.

In the spring, the ISS crew will half from six to three with just one, Chris Cassidy from NASA.

NASA and non-Russian parters will be less able to work on the US On-Orbit Segment (USOS).

The report explains: “Any reduction in the number of crew aboard the USOS would limit astronaut tasks primarily to operations and maintenance, leaving little time for scientific research.”

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has made a formal request for seats on a Roscosmos spacecraft.

The Russian agency is yet to respond.

Earlier this month Vice-President Mike Pence offered a more optimistic view.

Mr Pence vowed: “Before spring arrives next year, we’re going to send American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, back into space.

“We’re going to have our own platforms to take us back, and we don’t need to hitch a ride with the Russians any more.”

The ISS is a joint programme between NASA, Roscosmos, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency.


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The station has two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment operated by Russia and USOS.

The station is expected to operate until at least 2030.

236 people have been on board from 18 countries.

Major Tim Peake is the only Briton to have done so.

Currently on board are Italian commander Luca Parmiitano, Russian flight engineers Aleksandr Skvortsov and Oleg Skripockhka as well as American flight engineers Andrew Morgan, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir.

All the Americans on board are on their first spaceflight.

Mr Parmitano is on his second.

Mr Skvortsov and Mr Skripochka are on their third.

The expedition began last month and has seen Mrs Koch and Ms Meir undergo the first all female space walk.

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