In a world where SpaceX was not doing as well with Dragon 2 as they are, the decision on whether or not to refly Starliner’s test might have gone differently.
But NASA and SpaceX are confident in their plans to fly DM-2 in just a few weeks, with that test being a few months long, per reporting from Michael Sheetz over at CNBC:
Bridenstine explained that the plan is to bring Behnken and Hurley back a month before Crew-1, which the agency considers to be Crew Dragon’s “first operational” flight. Crew-1 will mark the official start of SpaceX flying astronauts on regular missions to the ISS.
“We bring them back a month before we’re ready to launch Crew-1 so we can take that month and investigate every part of the crew capsule,” Bridenstine said. “So the length of their stay on the ISS is going to be dependent on when the Crew Dragon is ready for Crew-1.”
So if Bridenstine is estimating a 2–3 month mission for DM-2, which launches mid-to-late May, then a month in between DM-2’s return and the launch of Crew-1, that could put Crew-1 in the September-to-October timeframe. Davenport reported that Starliner’s next flight would be in the October-to-November timeframe.
Maybe Dragon 2 and its complement of 4 astronauts can greet Starliner on its arrival at ISS.
Let’s hope it gets there.