Boeing’s Starliner spaceship will be getting a second chance on Tuesday August 3 where it will undergo an unmanned test flight. The test flight will take the Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS) and back in order to progress in NASA’s certification.
The first attempt occurred in December 2019 but resulted in a failure as the Starliner was not able to reach its destination. This was mainly attributed to Software defects and a communications link problem.
The Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission will give Boeing another opportunity to prove that their spaceship is ready for more ambitious missions. Initially, the OFT-2 mission was scheduled for Friday but was delayed after a module unexpectedly fired its thrusters. This meand that the flight test will take place on Tuesday instead at 1:20 p.m. ET.
Starliner will launch while carrying approximately 400 pounds of supplies in its capsule. The spaceship will then make its way to the ISS and return with research samples. Starliner is then expected to make a smooth parachute landing in the New Mexico desert.
Boeing has built Starliner with help and funding from the NASA Commercial Crew Program. This is the same program that supported competitors such as SpaceX in developing their own capsule. Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s human-spaceflight directorate, expressed her confidence in Starliner in a press briefing last week. Lueders stated that “Now’s the right time. This team is ready to go, this vehicle is ready to go”.
Starliner will be accompanied by its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket which will launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. If the mission is successful, Boeing may be able to launch the spacecraft with a crew of astronauts on board in 2022.
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