More than 18 months after its first failed attempt to reach the International Space Station, the Boeing Starliner is ready for a second shot. Following a review of flight readiness, NASA is moving forward with the next unmanned orbital flight test on July 30 from the spacecraft. Unless there is an unforeseen delay, the capsule will launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force station mounted on an Atlas V rocket at 14:53 ET. If NASA postpones the flight, it will try to perform the test again on August 3 as soon as possible.
The purpose of the flight is for NASA to perform a full test of Starliner’s capabilities. He wants to know if the capsule can handle all aspects of a trip to the ISS, including launch, docking, and atmospheric re-entry. “[Orbital Flight Test-2] will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing’s crew transportation system to transport astronauts to and from the space station, ”the agency said.
If the flight is a success, NASA will advance with a manned test of the Starliner. Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, said this could happen “as early as this year.” Both Boeing and NASA have invested heavily in the viability of Starliner. For the aerospace company, its decision not to conduct a end-to-end test of the vessel before its failed 2019 flight left the agency “surprised,” prompting questions about the project. Meanwhile, NASA wants to have two capsules that can transport its astronauts to the ISS. Right now, it’s limited to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon only. “It’s very important that the commercial crew program has two space transportation systems,” Stich told reporters.