Boeing plans to launch its CST-100 Starliner astronaut taxi on the second test flight on 25 March, company officials announced on Monday (25 January).
A joint launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the unmanned spacecraft from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, after which Starliner will attempt to mingle and dock with the International Space Station (ISS) – the spacecraft during its first test flight Failed to do so. , Called Orbital Flight Test-1 (OFT-1) in December 2019.
The upcoming mission, called Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), was not originally part of Boeing’s journey when the company was developing the Starliner for NASA’s commercial crew program. But after a series of glits that prevented the OFT-1 from reaching the ISS and led to early landings in New Mexico, NASA and Boeing, the Starliner was re-launched with an astronaut to test the unfettered test flight before launching decided to.
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The OFT-2’s target launch date is announced a week after Boeing’s Starliner passed an important software required test, during which Boeing teams “reviewed a complete series of tests to complete Starliner’s software and Performed several tests, which meet Boeing officials. ” in a statement.
The statement said Boeing will also complete end-to-end simulations of the OFT-2 test flight using flight hardware and the final version of Starliner’s flight software to model the vehicle’s expected behavior before flight Will use Boeing was criticized for not conducting such “end-to-end” testing for OFT-1 in 2019, when Starliners failed to reach the correct orbit.
If all goes according to plan with OFT-2, the Starliner spacecraft will maneuver an orbit entry approximately 31 minutes after liftoff, sending the spacecraft on its way to the ISS, where the next day (approximately 26 hours later) The lift is expected to come off).
Starliner will autonomously dock itself on the space station’s Harmony module for about a week, during which Expedition 64’s seven-man crew will unload any cargo on board and inspect the spacecraft. (Starliner may spend several months in orbit, but this mission will be kept short as it is only a test.) Once its orbital migration to the ISS has ended, Starliner autonomously returns to Earth for assistance from a parachute. Will undo the station from. Landing in New Mexico.
If Boeing and NASA do not uncover any major problems with the Starliner during the OFT-2 mission, the first Starliner to fly with the astronauts on board could follow as early as June. That mission, called Crew Mission (CFT), will send NASA astronauts Mike Finke, Nicole Mann and Butch Willmore to the ISS for an extended stay. NASA has not announced the duration of the CFT mission, but in 2019 the agency said it would be a long-term mission that could potentially last about six months.
The first operational mission to carry astronauts, called Starliner 1, will bring NASA astronauts Zeenat Apes, Sunita Williams and Josh Kasada to the ISS for a six-month stay. NASA officials said in a statement that the mission is tentatively scheduled for December 2021.
Email Haneke Weetering at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and Facebook.