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Boeing's first crew of the ISS receives an extension – and a delay

The first crew test of Boeing's new Starliner spacecraft is no longer a quick journey to the International Space Station, but will be for several months – just like a full-fledged mission. But don't expect it to happen for a while. NASA today announced that the company is now targeting Augustin for Starliner's first unencrypted flight test, with the longer crew happening sometime in late 2019. The new target dates that have already been reported constitute a significant delay for Boeing as the company reads Starliner for flight. Starliner is one of two vehicles developed for NASA's Commercial Crew program, to transport space agency astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Originally, Boeing's first crew test flight was a short trip to the station, but NASA decided to expand the mission to give the agency more options. NASA has sites booked on Russia's Soyuz rocket that allow the astronauts to stay at the space station at the end of the year and the agency has considered buying more only if commercial crew members are not finished on time. A longer manned flight test will mean that NASA can hold the astronauts at the station for much longer, ensuring that the ISS stays fully with NASA astronauts and their international partners. "NASA's assessment of extending the mission turned out to be technically feasible without jeopardizing crew safety." "NASA's assessment of expanding mission was found to be technically achievable without compromising crew safety," said Phil McAlister, head of the NASA commercial…

The first crew test of Boeing’s new Starliner spacecraft is no longer a quick journey to the International Space Station, but will be for several months – just like a full-fledged mission. But don’t expect it to happen for a while. NASA today announced that the company is now targeting Augustin for Starliner’s first unencrypted flight test, with the longer crew happening sometime in late 2019.

The new target dates that have already been reported constitute a significant delay for Boeing as the company reads Starliner for flight. Starliner is one of two vehicles developed for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, to transport space agency astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Originally, Boeing’s first crew test flight was a short trip to the station, but NASA decided to expand the mission to give the agency more options. NASA has sites booked on Russia’s Soyuz rocket that allow the astronauts to stay at the space station at the end of the year and the agency has considered buying more only if commercial crew members are not finished on time. A longer manned flight test will mean that NASA can hold the astronauts at the station for much longer, ensuring that the ISS stays fully with NASA astronauts and their international partners.

“NASA’s assessment of expanding mission was found to be technically achievable without compromising crew safety,” said Phil McAlister, head of the NASA commercial spaceflight department, in a statement. “Flight tests in commercial crews, along with the extra Soyuz capabilities, help us move with greater flexibility to our future generation commercial systems under the Commercial Crew Program.”

The exact length of the extended flight has not yet been determined. And NASA does not know exactly when it will be, because Boeing needs to get its unfaithful ground test first. Starliner that will be used for the test is almost ready, according to NASA, but Boeing will use extra time to do additional tests. Ultimately, NASA blames the delay to August for “limited launch opportunities” in the coming months &#821

1; the company that is launching Starliner, the United Launch Alliance, has to fly a major mission for the Air Force in June, which NASA says is affecting the schedule.

Starliner developments have suffered some setbacks, especially a motor test crash in June 2018. Almost a year after the event, the company will soon re-engine test at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. These engines are important parts of the Starliner Emergency Disruption System, which can carry the vehicle to safety if there is a major problem during the flight. Finally, Boeing must demonstrate this ability during a test before any of the two test flights can start. However, a date for it has not been established.

All this means that NASA’s second Commercial Crew partner, SpaceX, is ready to send crews to the International Space Station well before Boeing. SpaceX ended its first troubled flight of its passenger car, Crew Dragon, in March. The test seemed to go smoothly, with the Crew Dragon successfully demonstrating that it can automatically dock with the International Space Station and then land safely in the ocean using parachutes. SpaceX now needs to test its emergency emission system during a flight, followed by a crew test.

“SpaceX is on its way for a test of Crew Dragon’s abortion flight capability in June and hardware preparedness for Crew Dragon’s second space station demonstration mission in July,” a SpaceX spokesman said in a statement.

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