The Boeing Space flight will no longer be a quick trip to the International Space Station. But will in fact be a full plead mission that will last a few months. NASA has announced that it will be testing Starliners (Boeing’s ship) first uncrewed flight test. As well as a test with the full crew sometime this year.
Originally Boeing was going to have a short trip. But NASA had decided to extend the mission to give them more options. NASA has seats on a russian rocket that will allow astronauts to stay on the space station for a year. They’re thinking about buying more of these just incase the commercial flight crew isn’t ready in time for it’s launch. With a larger crew that means NASA can keep more people in the space station to make sure it’s operational.
Phil McAlister, director of the commercial spaceflight division at NASA went on record to say.
“NASA’s assessment of extending the mission was found to be technically achievable without compromising the safety of the crew,” as well as “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.”
As of right now NASA doesn’t even know when the rocket will take off yet. One thing they do need to do first is make sure Boeing has it’s uncrewed test flight first before they make any decisions going forward. NASA is claiming that the boeing rocket is ready but they’re using this additional time to run some test before the uncrewed flight. A reason why the Starliner hasn’t been tested yet is because the company in charge of flying it The United Launch Alliance is, doing a mission for the airforce in june. Which complicates the flying schedules.
Starliner has had a few problems of its own too. Back in june 2018 the engine test failed. Nearly a year later they will restart the engine test in a test facility in New Mexico. It’s no secret that these engine test are crucial for the launch and need to succeed before they do any test flights. However a date for that hasn’t even been set yet too.