CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – After nearly two years, Boeing is set to redo the Starliner spacecraft’s orbital test flight to the International Space Station.
The implications for this uncrewed orbital test flight loom large as the next time the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches three NASA astronauts will be on board and the space agency will have gained a second commercial vehicle to purchase flights from.
Starliner was set to launch Tuesday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 1:20 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral but due to a technical issue, the launch attempt was scrubbed.
Boeing’s orbital flight test, or OFT-2, will send the spacecraft on a journey to catch up with the International Space Station. Starliner will autonomously dock, spend several days at the ISS and then undock returning to Earth, landing in New Mexico. During the first OFT the spacecraft launched but had to return to Earth after a software issue. This time, Boeing managers hope to test the end-to-end mission profile, including the docking.
Below follow live updates from News 6 and ClickOrlando.com throughout the countdown:
11:15 a.m. Issue with Starliner causes launch scrub
Boeing confirmed that an unexpected issue with the Starliner spacecraft’s propulsion system was detected leading to today’s launch scrub.
“Boeing engineers monitoring the health and status of the vehicle detected unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system,” Boeing said in a statement. “The issue was initially detected during checkouts following yesterday’s electrical storms in the region of Kennedy Space Center.”
Boeing and NASA teams continue to examine the situation and will provide an update if they will try to launch Wednesday.
“We’re disappointed with today’s outcome and the need to reschedule our Starliner launch,” Boeing Commercial Crew Program manager John Vollmer said in a statement. “Human spaceflight is a complex, precise and unforgiving endeavor, and Boeing and NASA teams will take the time they need to ensure the safety and integrity of the spacecraft and the achievement of our mission objectives.”
10:20 a.m. Launch scrub
Boeing’s Starliner OFT-2 launch has been scrubbed for Tuesday due to a technical issue with the spacecraft, according to multiple sources.
“We’re confirming today’s #Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 launch is scrubbed,” Boeing tweeted. “More details soon.”
There is an additional launch window for Wednesday at 12:57 p.m.
We are off for today. Recycling for tomorrow.— Tory Bruno (@torybruno) August 3, 2021
NASA and Boeing have not confirmed if they will attempt to launch Wednesday.
ULA CEO Tory Bruno said teams are “recycling for tomorrow” indicating another launch attempt for Wednesday.
If the launch goes Wednesday the Starliner would dock at the International Space Station around 2 p.m. Thursday.
Lou Mangieri will oversee his 49th mission with today’s launch!
The leader of the United Launch Alliance operations for this #AtlasV rocket launch of #Starliner is Lou Mangieri, a veteran launch director overseeing his 49th mission today.— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
Countdown enters planned four-hour built-in hold at T-minus 4 minutes.
The countdown has entered the planned four-hour built-in hold at T-minus 4 minutes. With the rocket in a quiescent state following fueling, this hold is when astronauts will board Starliner for flight. Today's #OFT2 will simulate crew ingress procedures.#LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/aLvTkwKTEk— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
Weather remains 50-50 for launch time.
The @spaceforcedod weather squadron at Cape Canaveral in its latest briefing indicates conditions are acceptable with no threat of lightning for the Blue Team's entrance into the launch pad and for their work. Launch time forecast remains 50-50. pic.twitter.com/lAdXv7s0wn— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
Fueling of the #AtlasV has been completed, giving us a 978,924-pound (444,032-kg) rocket that is getting ready for launch at 1:20pmEDT (1720 UTC) today from Cape Canaveral. Live countdown blog: https://t.co/VIynIdVS23 pic.twitter.com/RoMZ8bl6BG— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
News 6 reporter James Sparvero shares a photo of the countdown clock and launch pad.
At @NASAKennedy this morning, @BoeingSpace and @ulalaunch report @Commercial_Crew launch of Atlas V rocket with Starliner capsule is a GO for 1:20 this afternoon with weather conditions 50/50. @news6wkmg live coverage starts at 9. pic.twitter.com/EdCR2tzCGO— James Sparvero (@News6James) August 3, 2021
Filling of the #AtlasV first stage with 48,800 gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen is underway.
Filling of the #AtlasV first stage with 48,800 gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen is underway. The LOX will be consumed with the RP-1 kerosene loaded into the rocket after rollout yesterday to power the main engine. pic.twitter.com/egAk3LbKOr— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
“We are GO to fuel the #AtlasV rocket with 66,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen,” United Launch Alliance tweets.
We are GO to fuel the #AtlasV rocket with 66,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. ULA Launch Director Lou Mangieri has authorized cryogenic tanking operations to begin as the countdown continues today. Fueling updates: https://t.co/VIynIdVS23 pic.twitter.com/yiFeNR1EHp— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
Kennedy Space Center shares a live look of the Atlas V rocket on the launch pad. Check out the livestream in the video player at the top of the story.
United Launch Alliance tweets that Launch Conductor Doug Lebo will poll the team to verify all systems are ready to proceed into AtlasV fueling operations.
The countdown has entered the first of two planned holds scheduled in today's timeline. During this 60-minute hold, Launch Conductor Doug Lebo will poll the team to verify all systems are ready to proceed into #AtlasV fueling operations. Live blog: https://t.co/VIynIdVS23 pic.twitter.com/giqjkG4YQB— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021
If it’s up to the weather, there’s a 50-50 chance an Atlas V rocket carrying the Boeing Starliner spacecraft will launch later this afternoon.
In the #AtlasV pre-fueling launch weather briefing, Launch Weather Officer Will Ulrich reports that conditions are favorable at Cape Canaveral for proceeding into cryogenic tanking operations this morning. For launch time, the forecast remains 50% GO. https://t.co/VIynIdVS23 pic.twitter.com/svCythpWZ2— ULA (@ulalaunch) August 3, 2021