Starliner test flight scheduled for July 30 – SpaceNews

WASHINGTON — NASA and Boeing have scheduled a second uncrewed take a look at flight of the CST-100 business crew spacecraft for July 30.

In separate statements, the company and the corporate stated they have been planning to launch the Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 at 2:53 p.m. Jap July 30 on the Orbital Flight Check (OFT) 2 mission. A launch that day would enable the spacecraft to dock with the Worldwide Area Station on the night of July 31.

The brand new launch date comes after NASA and Boeing accomplished an “built-in mission gown rehearsal” for the mission utilizing a simulator at a Boeing facility in Houston. The five-day simulation coated actions beginning 26 hours earlier than launch and going by means of touchdown, together with docking and undocking from the station.

“It supplied one other alternative to run the software program finish to finish with the highest-fidelity {hardware} and mission controllers within the loop to simulate as near an precise flight as ,” John Vollmer, Starliner vice chairman and program supervisor at Boeing, stated in an organization assertion.

Along with performing the gown rehearsal, Boeing has accomplished all of the actions really useful by an unbiased overview staff after the unique OFT mission in December 2019, which a number of issues that prevented it from going to the ISS. NASA in its assertion that these actions are “pending closure” by the company.

The Starliner that can fly the OFT-2 mission is, at this level, largely prepared. Boeing will now concentrate on processing the spacecraft that can be used for the later Crew Flight Check (CFT) mission till it’s time for prelaunch actions for OFT-2 in midsummer.

Whereas the spacecraft is sort of prepared, Boeing has to attend till late July to launch due to each launch schedules on the Jap Vary in addition to autos visiting the ISS. Starliner can dock at one in all two on the station, one in all which is at present occupied by the Crew-2 spacecraft. The opposite can be utilized by a cargo Dragon mission launching June three and scheduled to stay on the station by means of mid-July.

“The visitors mannequin up there on ISS is one thing else,” Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Area Heart, stated throughout a Area Transportation Affiliation presentation Might 6 when mentioning the standing of the OFT-2 mission, shortly earlier than the NASA and Boeing statements in regards to the new launch date. “Between all of the totally different resupply autos and the totally different crew autos going forwards and , it’s getting laborious to discover a spot to dock up there.”

Nevertheless, the brand new launch date continues to be barely sooner than anticipated. In mid-April, NASA officers stated they have been projecting a launch of OFT-2 in August or September. Boeing stated on the time that the Starliner can be “mission-ready” in Might ought to an earlier launch window grow to be accessible.

NASA and Boeing are holding out hope that, if OFT-2 does launch this summer season, it might nonetheless fly the CFT mission with three NASA astronauts on board earlier than the top of the yr. Cabana stated they needed to fly CFT “hopefully later this yr.”

At a gathering of NASA’s Aerospace Security Advisory Panel Might 6, panel member David West stated there was “good confidence inside NASA” in regards to the launch readiness for OFT-2. Nevertheless, he added there are “a number of open gadgets that can require decision” earlier than the CFT mission, however didn’t elaborate on these points.

Later within the assembly, one other panel member, Amy Donahue, stated that NASA and Boeing had finalized plans to conduct an organizational security evaluation of the corporate. The panel, at its February assembly, complained that NASA had but to begin that security tradition audit, and referred to as on the company to carry out the audit earlier than the CFT mission. NASA stated it had delayed the evaluation due to problems in conducting it attributable to the .

Donahue stated a joint NASA-Boeing staff will conduct the evaluation “very quickly,” and that the outcomes of the evaluation needs to be able to current on the panel’s subsequent assembly in July.

“We proceed to consider that security tradition evaluation should be carried out quickly to make sure that any lingering systemic points associated to threat administration, high quality and security are recognized and corrected,” she stated, “definitely earlier than CFT takes place however now even earlier than OFT-2.”

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