NASA seems interested in extending the space time of the first crewed flight of Boeing to the International Space Station. Revisiting the original plan (of two members), an extra crew member might also be included in the space ship. Starliner of Boeing will be taking NASA astronauts for the very first time this year. The trip timeline was initially set to two-weeks. However, present talks have thought of extending it to a longer period of six months.
This means the first crewed trip of Starliner will see a restructuring altogether, which was supposed to be a test flight in the beginning. Test flights were initially planned so that they prove to be safe for a larger crew (usually a four member on-board crew) of NASA eventually, on a regular basis.
With the current change of plan, looks like NASA has already placed its trust on the Boeing carriers since it transformed its test mission to more of a full crewed mission. There might be one reason as to this quick decision: NASA is falling short of transport to send its astronauts to International space station. Presently NASA has been using Russian Soyuz rockets, and also has it booked for the next two years. Post fall 2019, NASA plans to bank on its Commercial Crew partners to transport its astronauts to International space station.
The idea of this longer test flight will have more benefits to NASA any more ways than one. Instead of making multiple trips, it can finish its targets in just one trip. Moreover, more microgravity based research can be done for longer duration, along with better maintenance programs of the International space station.
However, this change isn’t into effect yet. These are just talks that are being reported. First of all turning a test flight into an operational one needs scrutiny to every last detail .A complete review needs to be done by the technical department, as told by William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations. The spacecraft should pass all the ground-check tests of sustainability in space for such a long time.
On the other hand, Boeing has agreed to this change promptly. They will do their best to provide all the additional flexibility that is required to guarantee full security and safety to NASA crew members.