NASA has modified its contract with Boeing for the transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station in a move that could potentially extend crewed flight test to up to six months and add a third crew member to the test flight.
The agency said Friday the revised Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract could also facilitate additional maintenance and research activities while Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is moored to ISS as well as maintain U.S. presence on the orbiting laboratory.
“This contract modification provides NASA with additional schedule margin if needed,“ said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's human exploration and operations mission directorate.
Gerstenmaier noted that transitioning the manned test flight into an operational mission requires “careful review.“
“Modifying the contract now allows NASA and Boeing an opportunity to tailor the duration to balance the mission needs with vehicle and crew capabilities,“ he added.
Boeing's unmanned Orbital Flight Test is slated for launch in August while its crewed flight test is scheduled for November.
SpaceX plans to carry out its Demonstration Mission 1 crewed test flight in August and conduct a manned flight test in December.