Boeing and NASA reached an agreement to extend the duration of the first crewed test flight of the company's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station.
The extension would allow NASA to conduct additional microgravity research, maintenance and other activities in the ISS, the space agency said Wednesday.
“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 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.“
Both parties also agreed to reschedule Starliner's flight tests for earlier launch dates.
The company now aims to conduct the spacecraft's uncrewed orbital flight test in August, followed by its first manned launch in late 2019.
Boeing is currently working to complete all of the critical testing and integration on the Starliner, while the first crew slated to ride the spacecraft are continuing training to prepare for the mission.
The company and NASA have yet to finalize the mission duration on the space station.