Boeing Starliner spacecraft test flight shifts to late summer

Current schedule dependent on docking availability

FILE - This Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 file photo shows the Boeing Starliner spacecraft after it landed in White Sands, N.M. On Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, Boeing acknowledged it failed to conduct full and adequate software tests before the botched space debut of its astronaut capsule late last year. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP) (Bill Ingalls, NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA is targeting August or September to redo Boeing spacecraft’s uncrewed flight to the International Space Station unless an earlier launch opportunity arises.

In an update Monday, Boeing said the Starliner CST-100 spacecraft would be ready in May but due to launch availability with United Launch Alliance and docking at the high-traffic International Space Station, that flight might not happen until later this year.

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Boeing first conducted the orbital flight test, known as OFT, in December 2019 but after launching on the ULA Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft was forced to return to Earth instead of docking at the ISS. As a result, the company has made corrections to the spacecraft and will repeat the OFT again before NASA certifies Starliner to fly astronauts to and from the space station under the agency’s commercial crew program.

Boeing also continues to prepare for its first Starliner flight with astronauts to the space station, known as the crew flight test.

“The Starliner team is now preparing for the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to enable the shortest turnaround time possible between flights while maintaining its focus on crew safety,” Boeing officials said in an update.