WASHINGTON – NASA and Boeing have scheduled a second test flight of the commercial crew spacecraft CST-100 Starliner on July 30.
In a separate statement, the agency and company said they plan to launch Starliner on the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 at 2:53 PM Eastern July 30 on the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2 mission. The spacecraft was able to dock with the International Space Station on the evening of July 31.
The new launch date comes after NASA and Boeing completed a “integrated practice kit” for the mission using simulators at Boeing’s facility in Houston. The five-day simulation covered activities from 26 hours before the launch and the landings, including the docking and take-off from the station.
“It̵7;s another opportunity to run the software from start to finish with the highest fidelity hardware and a mission controller in a loop to simulate as close to real flight as possible,” said John Volmer, vice president. Starliner and Boeing’s program manager said in a company statement.
In addition to performing the rehearsal, Boeing performed all the operations recommended by an independent monitoring team following the original OFT mission in December 2019, which faced a number of issues preventing it from going to the International Space Station, NASA noted in A statement that those actions are “awaiting closure” by the agency.
Starliner to fly, the OFT-2 mission is, at this point, very ready. Boeing will now focus on the processing of the spacecraft that will be used for later Crew Flight Test (CFT) missions until the launch time of the event for OFT-2 in the middle of summer.
As the spaceship is almost ready But Boeing has to wait until late July to launch as both the Eastern Range launch schedule and vehicles traveling to the International Space Station Starliner can dock at one of two ports on the station, one of which is occupied. Another Crew-2 Crew Dragon spacecraft will be used by the Dragon cargo mission, which launched on June 3 and is scheduled to stay at the station until mid-July.
“The traffic model on the International Space Station is something else,” said Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center, during a May 6 presentation by the Space Transport Association when discussing the state of the OFT-2 mission prior to the statement. Of NASA and Boeing shortly Regarding the new launch date, “Between all the different alternate vehicles and the different crew vehicles, it’s hard to find a point to dock there.”
However, the new launch date is a little earlier than expected. In mid-April, NASA officials said they were anticipating the launch of OFT-2 in August or September. Boeing said at the time that the Starliner would be “mission ready” in May if an earlier launch window was available.
NASA and Boeing are hopeful that if OFT-2 launches this summer, it can fly a CFT mission with three NASA astronauts aboard before the end of the year. Cabana said they want to fly the CFT “hopefully within this year”.
At NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Committee meeting on May 6, committee member David West said there was “Good confidence within NASA” about the availability of the OFT-2 rollout, however, he added that there were “multiple open shows that required resolution” prior to the CFT mission, but did not elaborate on those issues.
Later at the meeting, another member, Amy Donahue, said that NASA and Boeing had finalized the company’s plan to conduct a corporate safety assessment.A committee at the February meeting complained that NASA had yet to initiate a safety culture audit and called it. Calls for the agency to conduct a pre-inspection review of the CFT mission, NASA said it had slowed its assessment due to operational complications caused by the epidemic.
Donahue said the NASA-Boeing team will be conducting the assessment “very soon” and the results should be ready to be presented at the committee’s next meeting in July.
“We remain convinced that the safety culture will be evaluated soon to ensure that systemic issues related to risk management, quality and safety are identified and resolved,” she said. Will happen but now before OFT-2. ”