Boeing Delays First Crewed Flight to Space Station Gets Extended Duration

first_img Boeing’s first crewed test flight to the International Space Station will be longer than originally planned to complete additional microgravity research, maintenance, and other activities while the Starliner craft is docked to station, NASA announced today.NASA and Boeing have agreed to extend the duration of the flight test after completing an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems. They are now targeting the crew flight test, with astronauts on board, to late 2019, after delaying the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test to August.“NASA’s assessment of extending the mission was found to be technically achievable without compromising the safety of the crew,” said Phil McAlister, director of the commercial spaceflight division at NASA Headquarters. “Commercial crew flight tests, along with the additional Soyuz opportunities, help us transition with greater flexibility to our next-generation commercial systems under the Commercial Crew Program.”Boeing technicians lower the Starliner upper dome to the lower dome before bolting and sealing the pressure vessel. (Photo Credit: Boeing)Boeing also will fly a Pad Abort Test, which will demonstrate the abort engines can push the spacecraft about a mile up and a mile out from the test site, before those two orbital flights to demonstrate the company’s ability to safely carry astronauts away from a launch vehicle emergency, if necessary, NASA said.“The uncrewed flight tests provide a wealth of data for us to analyze every phase of flight,” said Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program deputy manager. “They offer a phenomenal opportunity for us to evaluate the end-to-end performance of the systems, and really set us up for flight tests with crew. Our Boeing and NASA teams are making tremendous progress without compromising safety as we prepare for launch.”Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which is designed to be reusable up to 10 times, is nearly complete, according to NASA.  “The Starliner team is working to complete all of the critical testing and integration on the spacecraft to ensure the shortest possible time between the completion of the uncrewed flight and the first launch of crew, and then to operational missions to station.”Boeing’s Chris Ferguson helps NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke train for a spacewalk. (Photo Credit: Boeing)NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke and Boeing’s Chris Ferguson are continuing preparations for the Crew Flight Test at Johnson Space Center in Houston. They are training on Starliner’s and the space station’s systems, and are now focusing on becoming a longer duration crew.Mann and Fincke are training for upcoming spacewalks, and Ferguson is training to support them from inside the station.The delays mean NASA’s other Commercial Crew Program partner, SpaceX, could be set to send crews to the space station well before Boeing. In March, the company completed an uncrewed flight test, known as Demo-1, to the space station. SpaceX now is processing the same Crew Dragon spacececraft for an in-flight abort test. The company then will fly a test flight with a crew, known as Demo-2, to the station.More on Geek.com:NASA Astronaut Eric Boe Is Pulled From Boeing’s Starliner Test FlightSpaceX Crew Dragon Successfully Docks to Space StationBoeing Unveils ‘Wingman’ Drone That Could Fly Alongside Fighter Jets Stay on target NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendHubble Captures Saturn’s ‘Phonograph Record’ Ring System last_img