Boeing has moved another step closer to becoming an official taxi service for NASA. The company passed a second test required in order to be allowed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017. In addition, Boeing successfully launched a refueling aircraft for its tanker program.

Boeing Passes Key Space Flight In Race Against SpaceX

Boeing pasts second critical test

Fox News reports that NASA examined Boeing’s ground support for the Commercial Crew Program for three weeks. The aircraft manufacturer conducted its work at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at NASA’s former space shuttle processing facility. In addition to examining Boeing’s work, the agency watching the company’s work at a future space mission control center.

A spokesperson for NASA said they looked at both designs for the facility and also the processes Boeing used for operation. They wanted to see how the company would use the facilities, what its work flow looked like, and how it was going to build the next spacecraft, prepare it for launch, load it onto a launch vehicle, and then operate it after it gets into space. The agency also wanted to see how Boeing would recover the spacecraft and “turn it around to go and do it again.”

Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft is competing with SpaceX’s Dragon aircraft to be a sort of taxi service to deliver astronauts to the ISS. Currently Kazakhstan is providing the taxi service for NASA’s astronauts.

Boeing successfully launches EMD #1

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio announced that Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus program also completed a key test. It was the first flight of the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) aircraft #1 on Sunday. The prototype aircraft took off from Paine Field in Everett and landed after its successful three and a half hour flight at Seattle’s Boeing Field, reports The Seattle Times.

The jet is a modified 767 that now has a cockpit that’s like that of the 787. It is also equipped with extra fuel tanks, but it does not carry any military systems. Boeing’s jet is planned to be used for early certification with the Federal Aviation Administration, so the company is planning to add military systems to it later.