CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Almost two years after failing to reach the International Space Station, this could be the month Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule paves the way toward helping more astronauts launch from Florida.
Boeing’s second unpiloted orbital flight test, or OFT-2, is coming up on July 30. On Wednesday, NASA made preparations on the space station for the capsule’s arrival.
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Astronauts on board the station relocated the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft to another docking port to make room for Starliner’s arrival.
In December 2019 during the OFT-1 launch, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket performed flawlessly but Boeing says Starliner did not fly as planned. A computer timing error caused the spacecraft to miss a critical maneuver that would have sent the vehicle on its way to catch the ISS.
Starliner returned to Earth landing in New Mexico but was required to make adjustments before flying again following reviews of the software mishap.
Retired NASA astronaut and Boeing Program Manager Chris Ferguson will work the upcoming mission behind the scenes.
Ferguson previously was going to fly on Starliner as part of its first crew and 10 years ago, on July 21, 2011, Commander Ferguson landed at Kennedy Space Center with Space Shuttle Atlantis.
The shuttle program came to a final stop after more than 30 years.
“It’s a new age in spaceflight, a lot of commercial partners out there launching rockets day in and day out,” Ferguson said. “It’s a lot more business, almost, than it was back in the shuttle days which is wonderful.”
Since Starliner’s first orbital flight test, NASA’s other Commercial Crew program partner SpaceX has sent three astronaut crews to the station and is planning a fourth for the fall.
On July 28, the Atlas V rocket and Starliner capsule will roll out to the launch pad two days ahead of liftoff. The launch is currently scheduled for 2:53 p.m.
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