NASA is working along with Russian space company to extend crew accommodation on the International Space Station possibly, the acting administrator of the agency said last week, as a cushion from expected delays in the progress of commercial crew capsules by SpaceX and Boeing.
Robert Lightfoot, who has managed the US space company on an interim basis since 2017 of January, told the lawmakers that NASA is seeking for ways to make sure the US astronauts could fly the space station. It is in case commercial spaceships constructed by SpaceX and Boeing aren’t operational by the period a transportation contract together with Rusia finishes in late 2019.
One alternative already under examination is possibly extending the initial piloted test flights of the commercial crew ships from 2 days up to six months. The recent update of NASA regarding their commercial crew contract along with Boeing gives the officials the alternative to extend their initial piloted test flight of the CST-100 Straliner spacecraft of the company from 2 weeks to 6 months, together with the probable addition of a third crew staff.
The space company declared it would consider a similar arrangement along with SpaceX if the firm proposes it. Lightfoot who plans to retire at the end of April, revealed that NASA doesn’t anticipate a barrier in crew access to the space station between the end of Soyuz mission under contract along with US astronauts and the beginning of space station crew-rotation trips made by SpaceX and Boeing.
Nonetheless, the Government Accountability Office claimed that the schedules tend to fall behind the current projection of NASA that expects the vehicle of SpaceX and Boeing is completing their crewed and unscrewed demonstration missions by the start of 2019.
The report of GAO claimed that certification of Crew Dragon of SpaceX for operational crew-rotation mission tends to slip until 2019 of December, along with the final certification of Boeing likely to happen in February 2020.
Lightfoot claimed that NASA is taking the further process to lessen the impact of more commercial crew delays that includes the possibility of extending the period astronauts work and live on the space station. He said that they are working with all their partners and working all the choices, but today they know they still show margin. One thing they have is an excellent relationship together with their Russian partners, and they are seeking at other options regarding potentially lengthening the mission period of the existing missions that are there.