Washington, April 4 (IANS) Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, targeted for launch this month, has been delayed until August and its crewed mission has been extended till late 2019, NASA has revealed.
The US space agency said in a statement on Wednesday that after completing an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems, NASA and Boeing have agreed to extend the duration of the company’s first crewed flight test to the International Space Station (ISS).
While “Boeing is now targeting August for its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, this date is a working date and to be confirmed”, NASA said, adding that the decision to adjust the launch date was guided by limited launch opportunities in April and May.
Moreover, the company’s first flight with astronauts on board, called the Crew Flight Test, is now targeted for late 2019, again to be confirmed closer to that timeframe, NASA maintained.
“We remain diligent, with a safety-first culture,” said John Mulholland, Vice President and Programme Manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Programme.
“While we have already made substantial progress this year, this shift gives us the time to continue building a safe, quality spacecraft capable of carrying crews over and over again after a successful uncrewed test, without adding unnecessary schedule pressure,” he added.
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is designed to be reusable up to 10 times, and will be used for the company’s first full operational mission after certification.
The Starliner is one of two vehicles — the other being SpaceX — that is developed for NASA’s Commercial Crew programme, to transport the space agency’s astronauts to and from the ISS.
SpaceX successfully completed the first uncrewed flight of its passenger vehicle, the Crew Dragon, in March.
SpaceX is now processing the same Crew Dragon spacecraft for an in-flight abort test. The company will then fly a test flight with a crew, known as Demo-2, to the station.