NASA and Boeing hosted a media teleconference on June 1 to provide an update on the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the International Space Station – the first flight with astronauts on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
During the call, managers shared they have made the decision to stand down on a July launch attempt for CFT to take time to address recent emerging issues.
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, 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 and Boeing completed a joint Crew Flight Test checkpoint review May 25 ahead of the first flight of Starliner with astronauts to the International Space Station. During the checkpoint, mission teams reviewed open work ahead of launch planned no earlier than July 21, including emerging issues that need a path to closure prior to a decision to fuel the spacecraft in June.
“We are taking a methodical approach to the first crewed flight of Starliner incorporating all of the lessons learned from the various in-depth testing campaigns, including Starliner’s flight tests and the agency’s verification efforts,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “All Orbital Flight Test-2 anomalies are closed. In addition to the closeout of ongoing work, the team remains vigilant on tracking new technical issues as we complete certification for crewed flight.”
As part of the ongoing effort, 95% of the Crew Flight Test certification products are complete. This includes approval of Starliner’s crew module batteries, based on additional testing and analysis, along with post-certification flight mitigations and a proposed battery upgrade for future missions. Teams are conducting final spacecraft closeouts and preparing for upcoming hardware milestones, including spacecraft fueling, spacecraft rollout to the launch site, and integration with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
While the team continues to work the remaining certification products, they also are working resolution paths on the following items:
Teams will remove and replace a by-pass valve on the active thermal control system, which is located on the Starliner service module and is used to flow coolant into the system to cool the onboard avionics. The Starliner team is replacing the valve that was restricting flow to one of two redundant loops, and running a diagnostic to confirm the suspected issue with the malfunctioning hardware. This work is expected to take about a week with no overall impact to the launch schedule at this time.
Engineers also are working to evaluate any elevated risk from a specific type of tape used on the spacecraft to protect wires from chafing. Although the tape is commonly used in spaceflight, the adhesive properties of the tape could present a flammability risk under certain conditions. NASA and Boeing are evaluating this material and the system’s overall wiring protection to confirm it is acceptable for crewed flight. Those efforts are ongoing and are expected to complete before Boeing begins fueling operations on the spacecraft.
NASA and Boeing also are working to reassess Starliner’s parachute system margins based on new data reviews as part of the ongoing design certification process. Engineers are reviewing the overall efficiency of certain joints within the parachute system to confirm they meet all required factors of safety for crewed flight.
“Crew safety remains the highest priority for NASA and its industry providers, and emerging issues are not uncommon in human spaceflight especially during development,” said Stich. “If you look back two months ago at the work we had ahead of us, it’s almost all complete. The combined team is resilient and resolute in their goal of flying crew on Starliner as soon as it is safe to do so. If a schedule adjustment needs to be made in the future, then we will certainly do that as we have done before. We will only fly when we are ready.”
Starliner spacecraft fueling is expected to begin as early as mid-June, and there is some operational flexibility in that timeline that can be used if needed. Teams will continue to monitor the forward work and determine whether an adjustment in the current launch date is needed. An update on the team’s progress will be provided in the coming weeks.
Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has been selected as a mission specialist for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission – the agency’s seventh rotational mission to the International Space Station.
Furukawa joins NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, who will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively. An additional crew member will be assigned at a later date.
Furukawa spent 165 days aboard the orbiting laboratory in 2011 as a flight engineer with Expeditions 28 and 29. As part of his duties, he helped support the final space shuttle mission, STS-135.
This will be the first spaceflight for Moghbeli, who became a NASA astronaut in 2017, and the first long-duration mission for Mogensen. He previously served as a flight engineer on a 10-day mission to the space station in 2015. Crew-7 will be his second trip to space.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than mid-August for the launch of Crew-7, aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four astronauts will join an expedition crew aboard the space station.
NASA and its industry partners, Boeing and SpaceX, are planning target launch schedules for upcoming commercial crew missions to the International Space Station.
Target Launch Manifest
NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test: NET July 21, 2023
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7: NET mid-August 2023
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8: NET February 2024
NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1: NET Summer 2024
Here is a closer look at each mission:
NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test
NASA and Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT), planned no earlier than July 21, 2023, is the first crewed flight of the Starliner system prior to certification and regular crewed missions to the space station. 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.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7
NASA and SpaceX’s seventh rotational mission to the space station is planned for no earlier than mid-August 2023. NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli and Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency), mission commander and pilot, respectively, will fly aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft named Endurance, which previously flew on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 and Crew-3 missions. The final two mission specialists will be assigned in the coming weeks. The spacecraft is currently being prepared for flight at SpaceX’s refurbishing facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket booster selection in support of Crew-7 is ongoing.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8
NASA and SpaceX’s eighth rotational mission to the space station is planned for no earlier than February 2024. An integrated crew of four will travel to the space station aboard a SpaceX Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket. Hardware allocations for Dragon and Falcon are planned in the coming months. Once crew members are assigned, operations teams will increase crew training activities specific to the mission, including spacesuit production and testing.
NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1
NASA and Boeing’s first crew rotation mission to the space station is planned for no earlier than summer 2024. NASA astronauts Scott Tingle and Mike Fincke, commander and pilot, respectively, will fly aboard the Starliner spacecraft, which previously flew on Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Two mission specialists will be assigned in the coming months. Timing of the launch is subject to change based on several factors, including: a successful CFT, incorporation of anticipated learning from CFT, approvals of postflight data and final certification products, and completion of operational readiness and certification reviews. Starliner-1 will fly a new service module currently in production at the Boeing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Production of the Atlas V rocket is complete. The hardware is in storage at the United Launch Alliance facility in Decatur, Alabama, awaiting shipment to the launch site for stacking and final integration with the spacecraft.
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:
NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, as the SpaceX Dragon, named Endeavour, docked to the complex at 1:40 a.m. EST while the station was 260 statute miles over the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia.
Docking was delayed slightly as mission teams completed troubleshooting of a faulty docking hook sensor on Dragon. The NASA and SpaceX teams verified that all of the docking hooks were in the proper configuration, and SpaceX developed a software override for the faulty sensor that allowed the docking process to successfully continue.
Following Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Dragon and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for 3:18 a.m.
NASA Television and the agency’s website are providing live continuous coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission carrying NASA astronauts, Mission Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev on their way to the International Space Station.
The Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, began the final phase of its approach to the station at 12:15 a.m. EST on Friday, March 3, and is scheduled to dock at 12:43 a.m. Dragon is designed to dock autonomously, but the crew aboard the spacecraft and the space station will monitor the performance of the spacecraft as it approaches and docks to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour, carrying NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, commander; Woody Hoburg, pilot; and mission specialists UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev to the International Space Station, has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has been opened.
At 2:30 a.m. EST, NASA will host a postlaunch news conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The event will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Participants in the briefing will be:
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
Dina Contella, operations integration manager, International Space Station Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Program, SpaceX
Salem AlMarri, director general, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre
Crew-6 will dock at the space station at approximately 1:17 a.m. EST on Friday, March 3. Live coverage on NASA TV resumes at 11:30 p.m. EST on March 2 and continues through spacecraft docking, hatch opening (2:55 a.m.), and the welcome ceremony (3:40 a.m.) at the microgravity laboratory.