NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station. Scheduled to launch at 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. About 31 minutes after launch, Starliner will reach its preliminary orbit. It is scheduled to dock to the space station at 3:06 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Prelaunch activities, launch, and docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
The spacecraft will carry more than 400 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies to the space station and return to Earth with more than 550 pounds of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.
OFT-2 will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket from launch to docking to a return to Earth in the desert of the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.
For a complete list of NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 briefings, events, and participants, read the full media advisory.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is fully assembled on its ride to space, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, in preparation for the 2:53 p.m. Friday, July 30, launch of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) in collaboration with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The joining of Atlas V and Starliner is a major milestone ahead of the second uncrewed flight test to demonstrate the system’s human transportation capabilities to the International Space Station. The test is the last flight before the Starliner system launches American astronauts on the Crew Flight Test to the microgravity laboratory – the first flight test with crew on board.
Early Saturday, the capsule traveled from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for hoisting on top of the Atlas V.
ULA’s motorized payload transporter, adapted to carry Starliner, moved at a top speed of 5 mph, heading from the C3PF, a former space shuttle hangar, eastward to the beach and then southward to Space Launch Complex-41. During the transport, Starliner was provided environmental controls also on the transporter deck.
Approaching the VIF, the transporter maneuvered up to the 30-story-tall building’s doorway and parked. A four-point lifting sling, called the Handling Fixture Hoist Tool, was connected to the Starliner for the overhead crane to carefully raise the capsule onto the Atlas V waiting inside the VIF aboard its mobile launch platform.
Starliner was positioned for mating to the launch vehicle adapter that serves as the spacecraft’s cradle on the rocket during ascent. The adapter also features the aeroskirt structure that smooths the air over the combined payload and Atlas V for aerodynamic stability.
Accommodations for Starliner in the VIF include a clean enclosure to enter the capsule’s crew module through the hatchway, access stands for technicians to detach the lift sling and complete preflight work to the spacecraft’s exterior, as well as power and data transmission umbilicals and purge and cooling lines.
Next up is the integrated systems test, a tip-to-tail electrical check of the 172-foot-tall Atlas V and Starliner stack.
OFT-2 will launch Starliner on a mission to rendezvous and dock to the International Space Station and then return about five to 10 days later to land in the western United States. The mission is an end-to-end test flight to prove the system is ready to fly astronauts.
On Monday, Nov. 4, the Atlas V’s first stage was lifted to the vertical position inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, followed by the mating of two solid rocket boosters to the booster. ULA teams then attached the Centaur upper stage and launch vehicle adapter atop the Atlas V first stage.
Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) mission will rendezvous and dock the Starliner spacecraft with the space station. OFT will help set the stage for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT), which will carry NASA astronauts Michael Fincke and Nicole Mann, and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson to the space station and return them safely home.
As aerospace industry providers Boeing and SpaceX begin to make regular flights to the space station, NASA will continue to advance its mission to go beyond low-Earth orbit and establish a human presence on the Moon with the ultimate goal of sending astronauts to Mars.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program emerged on Thursday from the production factory in Decatur, Alabama for transport in a giant cargo ship to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The rocket, known as AV-082, will launch Starliner and its crew of NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann, and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson to the station following the spacecraft’s maiden voyage, the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test targeted for August.
From the manufacturing facility in Decatur, Alabama, the Atlas V booster stage and Dual Engine Centaur upper stage were moved down the road for loading into the Mariner vessel docked nearby. The 312-foot-long ship is purpose-built to navigate both shallow waters of rivers and ocean travel to reach ULA’s launch sites. It has been making the trek from Decatur to Cape Canaveral since 2001.
Once at Cape Canaveral, the Atlas V will begin integrated operations and processing for the CFT launch.
NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to transport crew to the space station from the United States, returning the nation’s human spaceflight launch capability. These integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems will carry up to four astronauts on NASA missions.
Regular commercial transportation using Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to and from the station will enable expanded station use and additional research time aboard the orbiting laboratory. Research on the space station helps address the challenges of moving humanity forward to the Moon and Mars as we learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.