NASA has announced that it is targeting July 30 at 18:53 UTC for the launch of the second uncrewed test flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.
The second uncrewed test flight was a Boeing-led initiative to certify the spacecraft fit for human spaceflight after its anomalous maiden flight.
“Boeing is flying the OFT-2 mission at no cost to NASA or the taxpayer to demonstrate confidence in the Starliner vehicle and showcase the integrated team’s operational excellence ahead of crewed flight,” said a May 6 Boeing statement.
Launched on December 20, 2019, the maiden Starliner flight ran into trouble the moment it was separated from the Atlas V N22 upper stage. The spacecraft’s booster failed to ignite autonomously stranding it in a suborbital trajectory.
Although ground controllers were able to get the thrusters to fire, the anomaly had precluded the chance of a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
In preparation for a second uncrewed test flight, a NASA investigation identified 80 points of concern with Boeing and Starliner. The company has undertaken to correct the issues that were identified by the investigation to satisfy the agency and to ensure the spacecraft is safe for human spaceflight.
“All actions recommended by the Boeing/NASA Joint Independent Review Team as a result of Starliner’s first test flight are complete and pending closure,” said Boeing. “Boeing is committed to safely and sustainably transporting crew and cargo to and from low Earth orbit destinations.”
Once launched on July 30, the Boeing Orbital Flight Test 2 spacecraft will rendezvous with the International Space Station and dock with the Earth Facing port of the station’s Harmony module. The spacecraft is expected to remain docked with the station for approximately five days before returning to Earth.