Starliner test flight slips to early April – SpaceNews

WASHINGTON — A second uncrewed check flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner industrial crew car can be delayed by a bit of greater than every week to switch {hardware} broken throughout processing of the spacecraft.

In statements issued Feb. 17, NASA and Boeing stated the Orbital Flight Take a look at (OFT) 2 launch, beforehand scheduled for March 25, is now deliberate for no sooner than April 2. The spacecraft will launch on a Launch Alliance Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The revised date comes after Boeing not too long ago changed avionics models on the car that had been broken by an influence surge that NASA stated was brought on by “a floor assist tools configuration problem throughout ultimate checkouts” of the spacecraft.

The corporate can be nonetheless working to finish testing of software program on the spacecraft, addressing one of many key points with the primary OFT mission in December 2019. NASA stated that groups have accomplished about 95% of the suggestions recognized by an unbiased evaluation of that mission almost a yr in the past, which centered totally on software program.

One of many final milestones earlier than launch is an entire “end-to-end mission rehearsal” that options the identical software program that can be used on the Starliner spacecraft in addition to “high-fidelity” flight {hardware}. The shortage of full mission simulations was one motive software program issues, like an incorrectly set mission timer on the spacecraft, weren’t detected earlier than the OFT mission.

“The Boeing and NASA teamwork on all points of flight preparation together with ultimate certification, hazard evaluation and software program testing is extraordinary,” Steve Stich, supervisor of NASA’s industrial crew program, stated in a press release. “Although this uncrewed flight check to the Worldwide House is a key milestone on the trail to the primary Starliner crewed mission deliberate for later this yr, we’ll fly after we are prepared.”

“We’re totally engaged within the company’s evaluation course of as a beneficial funding of our time to make sure confidence within the spacecraft,” John Vollmer, vice chairman and program supervisor for Starliner at Boeing.

One other complicating issue for mission preparations is record-breaking winter climate in Houston, which led to widespread energy outages, Boeing stated in its assertion. “Regardless of this, the staff stays centered on the security and high quality of the spacecraft and a profitable launch no sooner than April 2,” the corporate stated.

The OFT-2 mission, which features a docking with the Worldwide House Station, will begin what can be an energetic month on the station. A Soyuz mission is scheduled to launch to the April 10, and was to hold three Russian cosmonauts. Nonetheless, NASA revealed Feb. 9 that it’s seeking to obtain one of the three seats on that spacecraft for an astronaut in trade for “in-kind companies” somewhat than buying it.

SpaceX is scheduled to fly its subsequent mission, Crew-2, no sooner than April 20. That spacecraft will deliver a brand new crew of American, European and Japanese astronauts to the station, permitting the astronauts presently on the station from the Crew-1 mission to return residence by early Might.



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