After two failed attempts to send Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on a crucial test flight, the team is now just weeks away from trying again.
Preparations at NASA’s Cape Canaveral, Florida facility launch site took a major step forward on Wednesday when the Starliner was placed on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, which launched it on May 19 in a unmanned flight into orbit.
Boeing released a video showing the Starliner’s journey from a local factory to the ULA Vertical Integration Facility, where the spacecraft was hoisted onto the rocket’s tip.
Join the journey as teammates roll #Starliner from our factory too @ulalaunch‘s Vertical Integration Facility. Starliner is stacked on top of that #AtlasV that will launch it on Orbital Flight Test-2 for @Commercial_Crew.
Teams look forward to the world witnessing the May 19 launch. pic.twitter.com/I1Alqqkp9f
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 4, 2022
The aerospace giant also released a series of photos showing the Starliner on its way to being attached to the launch vehicle.
That @BoeingSpace CST-100 #Starliner Spacecraft is mounted on its journey into space, the United Launch Alliance #AtlasV Rocket, in preparation for launch of Orbital Flight Test-2 in collaboration with @NASA‘s @Commercial_Crew Program.
— ULA (@ulalaunch) May 4, 2022
Assuming the Starliner spacecraft gets off as planned on May 19, the Atlas V rocket will put it on a 98 nautical mile suborbital trajectory. After separation from Atlas V, the Starliner will use its own engines to travel the rest of the way to orbit and on to the space station. The spacecraft will remain docked with the ISS for up to 10 days before returning to Earth for a parachute-assisted landing in New Mexico.
If the mission goes according to plan, NASA will have another spacecraft for astronaut flights to the ISS alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.
But it’s fair to say it’s been a bumpy road for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. Its first test flight in December 2019 ended in failure when it failed to reach the correct orbit to send it to the ISS. Subsequent investigation uncovered a number of software problems with the spacecraft’s onboard systems, all of which were fixed.
NASA and Boeing planned a second test flight in August 2021, but the mission was canceled shortly before launch after engineers discovered valve issues related to the Starliner’s propulsion system. Since then, the team has been working to get everything right for this month’s mission.
“Super proud of the Starliner team and the NASA team over the past eight months,” NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich said earlier this week. “It’s been a tough eight months I would say, but very fulfilling that we’ve got the oxidizer shutoff valve issue resolved and we’re moving towards launch.”
The highly anticipated mission will be broadcast live by NASA. Check back soon for full details on start time and where to watch.
Watch as SpaceX’s Crew 4 astronauts arrive at their new home in space
SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are en route to the space station
Boeing is preparing for a crucial space mission in May
How to watch SpaceX Crew 4 astronauts launch to the ISS
NASA has a plan to fix the problem with the Lucy spacecraft’s solar array
This article was previously published on Source link