NASA, Boeing Provide Update on Starliner Crew Flight Test

Boeing's Starliner crew ship approaches the space station on the company's Orbital Flight Test-2 mission on May 20, 2022.
Boeing’s Starliner crew ship approaches the space station on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission on May 20, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

NASA and Boeing teams continue to make progress in preparing for Starliner’s first crewed flight to and from the International Space Station.

In a media teleconference Aug. 8, leaders from NASA and Boeing discussed the path forward for the spacecraft, including work to address two technical issues identified during the agency’s certification process to ensure the system meets crew safety requirements.

The Starliner team expects to have the Crew Flight Test spacecraft ready in March 2024. A specific target launch date will be set closer to spacecraft readiness, and with consideration of the International Space Station, United Launch Alliance, and Eastern Range availability.

A replay of the teleconference is available on NASA’s YouTube channel.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are assigned to fly Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station. The duo will remain docked at the orbiting laboratory for about two weeks to evaluate the new spacecraft and its systems before returning to Earth in the Western United States.

Following a successful first flight with crew, NASA will complete work to certify the Starliner system as an operational crew system for long-duration crew rotation missions to the space station.

Follow NASA’s commercial crew blog for the latest information on CFT progress. Details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA, Boeing Prepare for Starliner Flight This Summer

The Starliner team works to finalize the mate of the crew module and new service module for NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test that will take NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams to and from the International Space Station.
The Starliner team works to finalize the mate of the crew module and new service module for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test that will take NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams to and from the International Space Station. Photo credit: Boeing/John Grant

NASA and Boeing now are targeting no earlier than Friday, July 21, for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the International Space Station, pending coordination for the U.S Eastern Range availability.

The new target date provides NASA and Boeing the necessary time to complete subsystem verification testing and close out test flight certification products and aligns with the space station manifest and range launch opportunities.

The goal of CFT is to test the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system with crew onboard, including the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, from prelaunch to docking and undocking to landing and recovery. Following a successful test flight, Boeing will work to finalize operational readiness for its post-certification missions and NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular, crewed missions to the space station.

Certification Process
Approximately 90% of the certification products required for the flight test are complete. NASA and Boeing anticipate closure on remaining CFT certification products this spring after ongoing verification testing of several subsystems is complete, including testing on the spacecraft’s backup manual flight mode for added redundancy in cases of emergency.

Starliner Status
The Starliner spacecraft build is complete. The team is now working through final interior closeouts of the spacecraft and wrapping up integrated testing. The loading of cargo apart from some late-stow items also is complete. The next major hardware milestones are specific to the launch campaign timeline, such as spacecraft fueling and rolling out to the launch site.

Atlas V Status
NASA completed its rocket readiness assessment, which evaluates all CFT launch vehicle segment flight critical items prior to integration activities. All rocket hardware is at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, awaiting processing ahead of rocket stacking at the launch site.

Crew Readiness
The NASA astronauts who will fly on CFT recently completed the critical Crew Equipment Interface Test. Conducted in two parts during February and March, the test allowed astronauts to perform hands-on training with the tools, equipment and hardware they will use on orbit. In the first part, they worked with the Starliner team to perform in-cabin checkouts, including adjusting the spacecraft seats, inspecting spacecraft interfaces, examining cargo, and conducting floor panel and side hatch operations. The second part of the test included the astronauts maneuvering inside the cabin with cargo installed in the spacecraft.

For more details, listen to an audio replay of the March 29 media teleconference on NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test.

Find out more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

NASA Astronauts Perform Key Testing with Starliner Spacecraft

Crew Equipment Interface Test for NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test
From left, NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams, along with Boeing Starliner Crew and Cargo Accommodations Subsystem Engineer Deanna “Dee” Dobson, review cargo items for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test. Photo credit: Boeing/John Proferes

Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams, the NASA astronauts who will fly to the International Space Station on NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), completed the first part of a critical two-part Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT) this week.

During CEIT, Wilmore and Williams, along with NASA astronaut and backup test pilot Mike Fincke, performed hands-on training with the tools, equipment, and hardware they will use on orbit. They worked with the Starliner team to perform in-cabin checkouts, including adjusting the spacecraft seats, inspecting spacecraft interfaces, examining cargo, and conducting floor panel and side hatch operations.

The second part of the test is scheduled to occur in early March, and will include the astronauts maneuvering inside the cabin with cargo installed in the spacecraft.

Wilmore and Williams are slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41 in Florida no earlier than mid-to-late April 2023. They will fly aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, powered by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The Crew Flight Test will demonstrate the ability of Starliner and the Atlas V rocket to safely carry astronauts to and from the space station. Following a successful test flight with astronauts, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation flights to the space station.

NASA, Boeing Provide Update on First Crewed Starliner Flight Test

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was moved into the Hazardous Processing Area at the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 8, 2023, in advance of power up and fueling operations. NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system to carry astronaut to and from the International Space Station.
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was moved into the Hazardous Processing Area at the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 8, 2023, in advance of power up and fueling operations. Photo credit: NASA

NASA and Boeing held a mission overview media teleconference Friday to provide a status update on the first astronaut flight test of the company’s CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station.

During the call, managers shared mission progress and discussed upcoming milestones ahead of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), which is targeted to launch no earlier than mid-to-late April to the microgravity laboratory.

A replay of the teleconference is available on NASA’s YouTube channel.

CFT is the final flight test prior to regular crewed missions to the space station on the next-generation system. For CFT, the Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, returning approximately eight days later in White Sands, New Mexico. The flight will carry two NASA astronaut test pilots, Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams, on the demonstration flight to prove the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system.

Following a successful test flight with astronauts, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation flights to the space station.

NASA, Boeing Teams Achieve Milestone Ahead of Crewed Flight

NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test AMR rehearsal
From left, Starliner Flight Crew Integration Manager Tony Ceccacci, and NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams, participate in a mission rehearsal at Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Lab in Houston. Photo credit: Boeing/Steven Siceloff

NASA and Boeing recently completed a full start to finish integrated mission dress rehearsal for the company’s CST-100 Starliner flight with astronauts to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch in April 2023.

The Crew Flight Test, or CFT, will launch NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams on Starliner – atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket – from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

During several days at Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Lab (ASIL) in Houston, the ASIL Mission Rehearsal (AMR) combined tests of software and crew systems, along with operations teams. The completion of the end-to-end mission rehearsal clears a path for the next CFT milestones, including working with the crew and flight controllers on various integrated failure scenarios and a series of flight-day parameter updates that will become available as the team nears launch day.

“Testing is a key component to the success of a human space program,” said NASA Commercial Crew Program Software Certification Manager Chad Schaeffer. “The AMR and the integrated failure scenarios are excellent examples of the rigorous testing teams are performing on Starliner. The rehearsal went well and reflects the continued improvement in executing this test and helps pave the way to the much anticipated first crewed flight.”

During the rehearsal, Wilmore and Williams, along with fellow NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, worked through mission milestones in coordination with mission operations teams located inside flight control rooms at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Starliner engineering teammates also supported from Boeing’s Mission Control Center located in Florida.

The crew members worked in a flight deck simulator networked to control rooms and avionics, operating the same software that will be used during CFT. They effectively demonstrated the software is ready to operate Starliner during prelaunch, launch, docking to the space station, undocking, and the return to Earth through landing.

The AMR provided end-to-end testing of hardware configuration, software, communications, preparation configuring hardware and software, routing communications channels, and mapping simulated sensor data. Similar testing was performed ahead of NASA and Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission in early 2022.

“We began conducting AMRs with the creation of OFT-2, and the integrated team has continued to get more efficient with each rehearsal,” said Aaron Kraftcheck, Starliner avionics software integration and test manager. “With the participation of our astronauts in this CFT AMR, we have enhanced the team dynamics, and continued to learn and adjust, which is what AMR is all about.”