ISS crew schedules delay need for commercial crew

LOS ANGELES — New Worldwide House Station crew assignments introduced by NASA Might 24 will give the company somewhat further schedule margin for getting industrial crew automobiles into service because it continues to check backup choices.

In a press release, NASA introduced it was assigning astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Andrew Morgan to ISS missions launching in 2019. Koch will launch on a Soyuz mission to the ISS in April 2019 as a member of Expedition 59/60, and Morgan in July 2019 as a part of Expedition 60/61.

With a typical crew rotation lasting six months, Koch would seemingly return to Earth in October 2019 and Morgan in January 2020. That is later than previous statements from NASA officers, who stated that Soyuz entry to the ISS would finish with the return of crews within the fall of 2019.

The announcement of the brand new crews and their launch schedules got here after Kirk Shireman, NASA ISS program supervisor, stated Might 20 that NASA’s entry to Soyuz would run into early 2020, moderately than the autumn of 2019.

“We do have Soyuz seats although contracts via the top of the calendar yr subsequent yr, and actually on into the primary month or so of 2020,” he stated at a press convention concerning the launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, in response to a query on industrial crew planning. “So the very first thing that we did is we labored with our Russian colleagues to go lengthen, to the utmost extent attainable, these flights subsequent yr.”

NASA has been trying into choices for sustaining entry to the ISS ought to neither Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner nor SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft be licensed for carrying NASA astronauts when entry to the Soyuz ends. One possibility that company has beforehand mentioned is utilizing a crewed check flight as an operational mission, including a 3rd crew member and staying on the station for months moderately than weeks. NASA modified its industrial crew contract with Boeing in April to check that possibility.

Shireman stated NASA’s high precedence was to get the 2 industrial crew automobiles licensed for ISS missions. Nevertheless, he stated that that NASA was contemplating various, unspecified methods to keep up entry, maybe in cooperation with Russia.

“We’re taking a look at different choices of how we would do it,” he stated. “The problem is we don’t need to go pull the set off on these different choices earlier than we all know the industrial U.S. suppliers gained’t be prepared.”

“A part of it’s simply working with our Russian colleagues about what choices can be found and after we must make selections,” he added. “To this point, these discussions have been very cooperative with our Russian colleagues. They actually perceive our state of affairs.”

The Russian government-controlled information service Sputnik reported Might 19 that Boeing was in negotiations with Energia to buy a further Soyuz spacecraft for a 2020 mission to the ISS, carrying two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut. The report, citing a “house trade supply,” stated that negotiations for the Soyuz had been in progress, with the expectation that the U.S. would pay your complete value of the spacecraft.

Boeing had beforehand acquired 5 Soyuz seats from Energia, together with three in 2019, as a part of a authorized settlement between the 2 firms concerning the Sea Launch three way partnership. NASA then contracted with Boeing for the Soyuz seats.

Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling stated Might 22 that there have been no plans by the corporate to accumulate a Soyuz for a 2020 mission to the ISS. “As beforehand introduced, Boeing, Energia and NASA negotiated the acquisition of Soyuz seats to the Worldwide House Station via 2019,” he stated. “We’re assured that CST-100 Starliner will probably be safely flying to ISS in 2020.”

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