NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which returned astronaut launches to US soil in 2020. Boeing, the other Commercial Crew provider, still has some work ahead before it sends a NASA crew to the International Space Station.have been a bright spot in
In mid-April, Boeing announced a new targeted launch date of August or September for the second uncrewed test flight of Boeing’s Starliner. The mission is called Orbital Flight Test-2, or OFT-2.
Boeing attributed the latest delay to working around other space station missions, along with the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Eastern Range where the launch will take place. “Boeing will be mission-ready in May should another launch opportunity arise,” the company said in a statement.
The launch date had already been pushed back to April, but developing spacecraft is challenging, and hurdles and delays are a normal part of the process.
The first major CST-100 Starliner flight test in late 2019 didn’t go as planned. The, but it did return to Earth safely. An and a communications link problem. Boeing vowed to conduct a second orbital flight test to prove the spacecraft’s safety before it carries humans on board.
Boeing has worked to address the problems from the first flight test. “Teams conducted a full software review and several series of tests to verify Starliner’s software meets design specifications,” said NASA in a statement. Boeing will also conduct a full simulation of the test flight prior to launch.
If OFT-2 is successful, then NASA and Boeing will look to launch an actual crew to the ISS. Boeing is aiming for a short turnaround time between OFT-2 and the Crew Flight Test (CFT). That would put both SpaceX and Boeing in business as providers of ISS flights. That’s the ultimate goal of a NASA program that is meant to end the US reliance on Russian spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the space station.
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