NASA Updates Astronaut Assignments for Boeing Starliner Test Flight

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
NASA astronauts Suni Williams, left, Barry “Butch” Wilmore, center, and Mike Fincke, right, watch as a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA will fly two astronaut test pilots aboard the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station, where they will live and work off the Earth for about two weeks.

CFT commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, whom NASA assigned to the prime crew in October 2020, will join NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who will serve as pilot. Williams previously served as the backup test pilot for CFT while assigned as commander of NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, Starliner’s first post-certification mission. As CFT pilot, Williams takes the place of NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, originally assigned to the mission in 2018. NASA reassigned Mann to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission in 2021.

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, whom the agency previously assigned as the Joint Operations Commander for CFT, will now train as the backup spacecraft test pilot and remains eligible for assignment to a future mission. Fincke’s unique expertise will continue to benefit the team as he retains his position as flight test lead, filling a vital role in Starliner certification.

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NASA to Purchase Additional Commercial Crew Missions

NASA insignia.

NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire five additional crewed flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The additional crew flights will allow NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station with two unique commercial crew industry partners.

In December 2021, NASA announced the extension of the International Space Station to 2030. With this extension, there is a need for additional crew rotation missions to sustain a safe and sustainable flight cadence throughout the remainder of the space station’s planned operations.

“Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 went very well and we hope to be able to certify the Starliner system in the near future. However, we will need additional missions from SpaceX to implement our strategy of having each commercial provider flying alternating missions once per year,” said Phil McAllister, director, commercial space at NASA. “Our goal has always been to have multiple providers for crewed transportation to the space station. SpaceX has been reliably flying two NASA crewed missions per year, and now we must backfill those flights to help safely meet the agency’s long-term needs.”

NASA anticipates a potential need to use any additional SpaceX flights as early as 2026 to ensure dissimilar redundancy, maintain safe space station operations, and allow each company to work through any unforeseen issues that could arise as private industry builds operational experience with these new systems.

“The recent success of Boeing’s uncrewed flight test is helping to solidify NASA’s long-term goals,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It’s critical we complete Starliner’s development without undue schedule pressure while working to position both Boeing and SpaceX for sustainable operations in the years ahead.”

SpaceX is currently NASA’s only certified commercial crew transportation provider. The company will fly its sixth rotational mission for NASA in the spring of 2023.

In October 2021, NASA issued a request for information from American industry capable of providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective human space transportation services to and from the International Space Station to ensure a continuous human presence aboard the microgravity laboratory. In February 2022, NASA awarded a firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract modification for the Crew-7, Crew-8, and Crew-9 missions to SpaceX.

After a thorough review of the long-term capabilities and responses from American industry, NASA’s assessment is that the SpaceX crew transportation system is the only one currently certified to maintain crewed flight to the space station while helping to ensure redundant and backup capabilities through 2030.

The current sole source modification does not preclude NASA from seeking additional contract modifications in the future for additional transportation services as needed.

In 2014, NASA awarded the CCtCap contracts to Boeing and SpaceX through a public-private partnership as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Under CCtCap, NASA certifies that a provider’s space transportation system meets the agency’s requirements prior to flying missions with astronauts. After years of development, commercial crew systems have achieved or are nearing operational readiness for regular crewed missions, including providing a lifeboat capability, to the space station.

 

Starliner Lands in New Mexico, Completes Station Mission

Boeing's #Starliner crew ship parachutes to a landing in New Mexico completing the company's Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Credit: NASA TV
Boeing’s #Starliner crew ship parachutes to a landing in New Mexico completing the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Credit: NASA TV

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed its touchdown at 6:49 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, wrapping up the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner settled gently onto its air bags following a parachute-assisted landing that helps set the stage for future crewed landings. The landing followed a deorbit burn at 6:05 p.m., separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 9 p.m. on NASA TV from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Suni Williams, NASA astronaut
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing

Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed spacecraft successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. Friday, May 20.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Starliner Fires Engines, Returning to Earth for Landing

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.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

At 6:05 p.m. EDT, the spacecraft began its deorbit burn that puts Starliner on the right path to land at 6:49 p.m. White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. The service module has successfully separated from the crew module containing Rosie the rocketeer, an anthropometric test device who will help maintain Starliner’s center of gravity from ascent through landing. During OFT-1, Rosie was outfitted with 15 sensors to collect data on what astronauts will experience during flights on Starliner.

At 6:44 p.m. the drogue parachute will be released, pulling out the spacecraft’s three main parachutes at 6:45 p.m. that will slow the capsule to a safe landing on Earth.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Starliner Nearing Return to Earth

This view from a window on the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship shows Boeing's Starliner crew ship moments away from docking to the station on May 20, 2022.
This view from a window on the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship shows Boeing’s Starliner crew ship moments away from docking to the station on May 20, 2022.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage of the return to Earth for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. The uncrewed Starliner is expected to land at 6:49 p.m. EDT White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.

If all conditions are “go” for Starliner’s return, the deorbit burn will be conducted at 6:05 p.m. Within minutes, the service module will separate from the crew module to prepare for landing at 6:49 p.m.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Starliner Undocks from Station, Heads Toward Earth

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25, completing about 5-days attached to the microgravity laboratory as part of its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2. At undocking, Starliner and the space station were flying over Earth south of Bangkok, Thailand.

Starliner will execute a deorbit burn at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, to begin the final phase of its return to Earth, headed for a parachute-assisted landing about 6:49 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Live coverage for the deorbit burn and landing will begin 5:45 p.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 9 p.m. on NASA TV from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Suni Williams, NASA astronaut
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing

Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 6:54 p.m. Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed spacecraft successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. Friday, May 20.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Boeing Starliner Launches on Orbital Flight Test-2, Postlaunch News Conference at 9 p.m. EDT

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 launched at 6:54 p.m. ET, and will serve as an end-to-end test of the system's capabilities.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 launched at 6:54 p.m. ET, and will serve as an end-to-end test of the system’s capabilities. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is safely in orbit heading for the International Space Station following launch of the next-generation spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on a mission designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable system.

The Starliner spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the space station at 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 20. The spacecraft is carrying more than 500 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies to the space station and returns to Earth with nearly 600 pounds of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.

Read more here.

Watch the postlaunch news conference, scheduled for 9 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center on NASA TV.

Participants are:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, NASA Space Operations Mission Directorate
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
  • John Elbon, chief operating officer, United Launch Alliance

NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 television coverage returns on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21 and will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

All times are subject to change based on mission operations (all times Eastern):

Friday, May 20
3:30 p.m. – NASA TV rendezvous and docking coverage begins
7:10 p.m. (approximately) – Docking

Saturday, May 21
11:30 a.m. – NASA TV hatch opening and welcoming remarks coverage begins
11:45 a.m. (approximately) – Hatch opening and welcoming remarks

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

For updates throughout the test, tune in to the space station blog at https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

Boeing’s Starliner Separates from Atlas V Centaur

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner separates from the Atlas V Centaur second stage.
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner separates from the Atlas V Centaur second stage on May 19, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner has separated from the Atlas V Centaur and is flying on its own, embarking on its flight to the International Space Station. After a series of orbital adjustments, Starliner will be on course for rendezvous and docking with the space station at 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 20.

Liftoff! Atlas V Clears the Launch Pad with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V carrying Boeing's CST-100 Starliner for Orbital Flight Test-2 lifts off at 6:54 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 19, 2022.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V carrying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner for Orbital Flight Test-2 lifts off at 6:54 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 19, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

Booster ignition and liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on NASA’s Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station. Launch occurred at 6:54 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

About one minute after launch, the Atlas V rocket achieved Mach 1. About two-and-a-half minutes into flight, a series of key events will begin to occur over the next few minutes. The Atlas V solid rocket boosters will fall away. The Atlas first-stage booster engine will cut off, followed by separation from the dual-engine Centaur second stage. The Centaur first main engine will start, followed by aeroskirt jettison. A few minutes later the Centaur engine will cut off.

ULA Launch Conductor Polling for “Go” for Launch

The United Launch Alliance launch conductor is performing his poll of the launch team to determine a “Go” for launch of the Atlas V rocket.