NASA, Boeing disc launch date for the Starliner mission to the International Space Station

The Boeing Starliner crew unit is preparing for the next test of orbital flight in 2021.

Boeing

SpaceX and its Crew Dragon spacecraft It was a bright spot in NASA Commercial Staff Program, Which re-launched astronauts to US soil in 2020. Boeing, the other provider of commercial crew, still has some work to do before it transports the NASA crew to the International Space Station.

on Monday, NASA announced a new target date on March 25 To launch the second unmanned test flight of Boeing’s Starliner. Last fall, NASA was targeting March 29, so the new date pushes the target up by a few days. The mission is called Orbital Flight Test-2 or OFT-2.

Spacecraft development is a challenge, and obstacles and delays are a natural part of the process.

The CST-100 Starliner’s first major flight test in late 2019 did not go as planned. The The spacecraft that failed to reach the International Space StationBut she came back to Earth safely. that An investigation revealed flaws in the software And the problem of communication link. Boeing has pledged to run a second orbital flight test to prove the spacecraft’s safety before it puts people on board.

Boeing is working on the issues with its first flight test. “Teams have conducted a complete software review and several series of tests to verify that the Starliner software meets design specifications,” NASA said in a statement. Boeing will also conduct a full simulation of its test flight prior to launch.

If OFT-2 is successful, NASA and Boeing will look to send an actual crew to the International Space Station later in 2021. This should put SpaceX and Boeing in business as flight providers for the International Space Station. This is the ultimate goal of the NASA program that has already ended the United States’ dependence on Russian spacecraft to transport astronauts to the space station.

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