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NASA Tells Boeing To Fly The Three People For Six Months To ISS
NASA has updated its commercial crew contract with the Boeing to let the US-based aerospace company fly the three people to the International Space Station, who will stay there for up to six months from earlier planning in a two-week trip.
The move is seen to quickly end the dependency over Russian Soyuz flights to ferry astronauts to the ISS as NASA’s contract with Soyuz ends in the year 2019.
“NASA has updated its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with the Boeing, which is providing flexibility in its commercial flight tests,” the US space agency says on Friday.
Boeing is one of the agency’s two commercial crew partners in the other being SpaceX, approaching NASA last year and proposed to add a third crew member on its Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the ISS.
“The change is including the ability to extend Boeing’s CFT from roughly two weeks to up to six months as well as the training and a mission to support for a third crew member.
The Cargo capabilities for the uncrewed and crewed flight tests were also identifying,” NASA says. Adding a third crew member on the Boeing’s flight test is scheduled for later this year which can offer NASA an additional opportunity to ensuring continued US access to the orbital laboratory.
“This contract modification is providing NASA with an additional schedule margin needed,” says William Gerstenmaier Associate Administrator at NASA.
“We are appreciating Boeinga¿s willingness to evolving its flight to ensure we have continued to access the space for our astronauts. Commercial space transportation to the Low-Earth orbit from US soil is critical for the agency and the nation,” he is adding.
The current commercial crew flight schedules are providing about six months of the margin to begin regular, post-certification crew rotation missions to the ISS.
“Turning a test flight into more of an operational mission that needs careful review by the technical community,” says Gerstenmaier.
For example, the spacecraft capability to support the additional time which is still needed to be reviewing.
“Modifying the contract now allows NASA and Boeing an opportunity to tailor the duration to balance the mission needs with a vehicle and crew capabilities,” NASA notes. It will not the first time NASA has expanding the scope of test flights.
NASA has SpaceX carry cargo on its commercial cargo demonstration flight to the space station under Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) initiative in the year 2012, which was not a part of the original agreement.
Boeing and SpaceX plan to fly the test missions without a crew to the space station this year before the test flights with a team onboard.
After each company’s test flights, NASA will evaluate the in-flight performance to certify the systems and begin a regular post-certification crew rotation missions.
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