NASA and Boeing Target New Launch Date for Next Starliner Flight Test
Press release from: Boeing
Published: Wednesday, December 9, 2020
NASA and Boeing are targeting March 29 for the launch of Starliner’s second unmanned flight test to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical development milestone on the company’s path to flight crew missions for NASA.
During OFT-2, the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, docking with the International Space Station and will land again in the western United States. The United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test to demonstrate that the system is ready to fly with the crew.
The OFT-2 Starliner spacecraft is nearing final assembly within the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicle’s reusable crew module has been powered up and final checks of the avionics, power and propulsion systems are nearing completion. The spacecraft’s parachutes, landing airbags, base heat shield and their rear housings are installed, signifying completion of the vehicle construction phase. In the coming weeks, crews will load the crew module with cargo, including Rosie the Rocketeer, and weigh the vehicle before docking it to its service module, which is now complete.
In parallel, Boeing technicians continue to renovate the crew module flown in the first Starliner orbital flight test and, at the same time, build a completely new service module for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT). , which is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2021, following a successful OFT. -2 mission.
NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann continue to train for CFT, the inaugural crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft. After the completion of both test flights, NASA astronauts Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada and Jeanette Epps will launch on the Starliner-1 mission, the first of six crew rotation missions that NASA and Boeing will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
The formal qualification of Starliner flight software is also taking place within Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Laboratory in Houston. Teams are running static and dynamic tests of the vehicle’s software to make sure it is coded as designed and incorporates all the mission requirements. The test teams will then run a complete end-to-end mission scenario, from pre-launch to docking and undock to landing, using a suite of high-fidelity hardware prior to flying the OFT-2 mission.
“NASA and Boeing are doing a great deal of work on all aspects of their flight software running numerous cases through Boeing’s high-fidelity simulation environment that includes Starliner avionics,” said Steve Stich, Program Manager for the NASA Commercial Crew.
Boeing has worked hand-in-hand with NASA to address all the lessons learned from the first Starliner flight. The company is more than 90% complete in closing all recommended actions developed by a joint independent review team from NASA and Boeing, including those that were not mandatory, prior to Starliner’s second unmanned flight test.
United Launch Alliance is also advancing the OFT-2 Atlas V hardware at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is ready for processing for the next OFT-2 launch. The Centaur upper stage for CFT is complete, and all hardware for the CFT mission is on track for delivery in early 2021 at the launch site. Hardware to support Starliner-1 is in progress.
“The progress we are making ahead of Starliner’s next flight is laying the foundation for safe and reliable transportation services for NASA and a variety of customers for many years to come,” said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager at Boeing. “With every vehicle lock, line of code tested and document delivered, we are on our way to proving that we have a robust and fully operational vehicle. It is truly a hard-working team with NASA and our industry partners. “
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