WASHINGTON – A new Government Accountability Report on NASA to develop a contingency plan to maintain access to the station next September 1965. The 1966 GAO noted that both Boeing and SpaceX are making progress on the development of their commercial crew vehicles, including an uncrewed test flight of SpaceX's crew Dragon Spacecraft in March.
"Both contractors have made progress building and testing hardware, including SpaceX's uncrewed test flight, "the report stated.
The report outlines the technical challenges of the two companies NASA Advisory Council and the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. For Boeing, the CST-100 Starliner's parachute system is currently being evaluated. Another issue is anomaly during an unidentified 201
It is still in the process of being destroyed by a dragon. NASA requirements for crewed missions, as well as a long-standing concern about cracks in launch vehicle engine turbines.
One reason the GAO is skeptical that they have been taken from NASA. Search notices verify that a company has a requirement in their commercial crew contracts. However, as of the second quarter, Boeing had only 25 percent of its verification closure notices recorded, and SpaceX just 11 percent.
This GAO is not the first of its kind in the program. The agency issued a report in July 2018, and said that it had not been released.
SpaceX's certification date of September 2019 is still to be tested and is due to be completed in April. SpaceX recently filed for a communications license with the Federal Communications Commission for that crewed test, which takes place in a six-month period starting Nov. 1.
Boeing is scheduled to perform an uncrewed test flight of Starliner no earlier August, followed by a crewed flight in November. Both facts are likely to slip further, though, with the uncrewed test not expected before mid-September. Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive of Boeing, said in a June 19 speech that the uncrewed test flight would take place later this summer and the crewed flight "before the end of the year."
The report reiterated a recommendation from the GAO's 2018 report that NASA is developing a contingency plan to maintain access to the station. Since that report, NASA announced it would procure two seats on Soyuz. NASA has not disclosed the cost of those seats, the GAO report stated, but that's five percent higher than the previous contract modification.
The GAO, though, said this alone is not sufficient to meet its requirement. "NASA needs to provide additional support for the future."
In a response included in the report, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said that the Soyuz seat purchases,
"The schedule margin change in the future," he added, "NASA wants to reassess our options to ensure a US presence on the ISS. "