NASA and Boeing are making final preparations for the second unmanned test flight of their Starliner CST-100 spacecraft, and during their meeting the team announced that the Starliner mission “goes for launch” on May 19.
NASA and Boeing are moving ahead with plans to test the unmanned orbital flight 2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) after a full day of briefings and discussions during the flight readiness review held at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center, Boeing said in an update on its website as Digitartlends site transfer.
The mission follows a failed attempt to send the Starliner to the International Space Station in December 2019 when software problems prevented the spacecraft from reaching its intended orbit. A second flight attempt, in August last year, also ended in failure when technical problems prevented the launch from proceeding.
After launching from the Kennedy Space Center atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on the evening of May 19, the Starliner will arrive at the International Space Station about 24 hours later. It will remain at mooring for up to 10 days before returning to Earth in a parachute-assisted landing in New Mexico. As part of the mission, the spacecraft will transport hundreds of pounds of cargo to and from the space station.
If Boeing can demonstrate the safety and reliability of its Starliner capsule in the upcoming test flight, NASA will have another vehicle that it can use for astronaut flights alongside SpaceX’s successful Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that includes the space agency’s work with commercial companies to develop and fly human space transportation systems.
“The most important step right now is to go into an uncrewed orbital flight test to test key systems on the Starliner, including NASA’s rendezvous navigation system and docking system,” said Steve Stitch, director of the Commercial Crew Program.
On a positive note after Starliner’s turbulent start, Stich added: “The hardware is ready, it’s great to see the team in place to fly the plane. We’re excited to fly, and the Starliner is a fantastic vehicle.”
Earlier this week, Boeing shared time-lapse footage of its Starliner stacked atop an Atlas V rocket in preparation for next week’s launch.
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