NASA, Boeing Progress Toward July Launch of Second Starliner Flight

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Publisher: NASA
Date: 2021-06-16T10:51-04:00
Twitter: @NASA
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Boeing, NASA target July 30 for 2nd test flight of Starliner capsule

Boeing’s Starliner astronaut taxi will launch on its second test flight in July, if all goes according to plan. ‘

The company now aims to launch Starliner no sooner than July 30 ‘ slightly earlier than the previously announced target of early August. The upcoming liftoff will kick off Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), an uncrewed mission to the International Space Station.

Boeing last tried such a test flight in December 2019, but the spacecraft did not reach the station as planned due to a series of technical problems. Further delays ensued as Boeing attempted to meet NASA requirements stemming from a postflight review, and technical and weather issues contributed as well. Boeing has also had to wait while NASA tried to find an available slot in the busy launch schedule for ISS-bound spaceships, both crewed and uncrewed.’

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NASA’s Long-Delayed Return To Human Spaceflight

With the launch of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, the United States has achieved something it hasn’t done in nearly a decade: put a human into low Earth orbit with a domestic booster and vehicle. It was a lapse in capability that stretched on far longer than anyone inside or outside of NASA could have imagined. Through a series of delays and program cancellations, the same agency that put boot prints on the Moon and built the iconic Space Shuttle had been forced to rely on Russia to carry its astronauts into space since 2011.

NASA would still be waiting to launch its own astronauts had they relied on America’s traditional aerospace giants to get the job done. The inaugural flight of the Boeing CST-100 ‘Starliner’ to the International Space Station in December was an embarrassing failure that came perilously close to losing the unmanned capsule. A later investigation found that sloppy software development and inconsistent testing had caused at least two major failures during the mission, which ultimately had to be cut short as the vehicle couldn’t even reach the altitude of the ISS, to say nothing of making a docking attempt. NASA and Boeing have since agreed to attempt another test of the CST-100 sometime before the end of the year, though a delay into 2021 seems almost inevitable due to the global pandemic.

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