NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test Stacking Up For Launch

United Atlas V rocket raised to vertical at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida
Crews raise a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to a vertical position at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

NASA, Boeing, and ULA (United Launch Alliance) are readying the rocket that will launch the first crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket stands vertical at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket stands vertical, awaiting integration with the rocket’s Centaur upper stage and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner after moving inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

The ULA Atlas V rocket was moved into the company’s Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, which starts the preparations for its stacking operations ahead of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test.

The rocket’s main stage was transferred from the nearby Advanced Spaceflight Operations Center to the integration facility Wednesday, Feb. 21, where it will await integration with the rocket’s upper Centaur stage and Starliner. The spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore to the orbiting laboratory for a short stay of about one to two weeks before returning to a landing site in the southwest United States.

The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system, including launch, docking, and a return to Earth. After successful completion of the mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and its systems for crewed rotation missions to the space station.

NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than late April for launch. Starliner completed two uncrewed flight tests, including Orbital Flight Test-2, which docked to the space station on May 21, 2022, and provided valuable data leading up to its first crewed flight.

Details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, X, and Facebook.

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.

The Launch Team is “Go” for Launch, T-4 Minute Hold Complete

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Boeing CST-100 spacecraft for Orbital Flight Test-2 is ready for launch on the pad at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 19, 2022 at 6:54 p.m. EDT.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Boeing CST-100 spacecraft for Orbital Flight Test-2 is ready for launch on the pad at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 19, 2022 at 6:54 p.m. EDT. Photo caption: NASA

Launch conductors have completed their polls of the launch teams. The T-4 minute built-in hold has been released and the countdown has resumed. The Starliner spacecraft has been configured for terminal count. Three seconds before launch, the Atlas V booster’s RD-180 engine will ignite.

Starliner has been switched to internal power and configured for launch. The crew access arm has been stowed for launch. Weather still looking good.

 

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.

Spacecraft Launch Conductor Polling for “Go” for Launch

The Boeing launch conductor is polling the launch team to determine a “Go” for launch of the Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. The launch team is monitoring data feeds, looking for any anomalies.

Terminal Count Briefing Underway

The launch conductor has started a terminal count briefing with the launch team. There are three control rooms: the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center on the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station; the Boeing Mission Control Center at Kennedy Space Center; and the Space Station Control Room at Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA’s Emergency Operations Center also is activated, and United Launch Alliance has teams in Denver who will monitor ascent of the rocket.

Meet Rosie, Boeing’s First Anthropometric Starliner Commander

Rosie the Rocketeer, Boeing’s anthropometric test device, claimed her spot once again in the commander’s seat inside the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for its second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Rosie’s first flight, OFT, provided hundreds of data points about what astronauts will experience during flight. For OFT-2, she will help maintain Starliner’s center of gravity during ascent, docking, undocking and landing. OFT-2 is scheduled to lift off at 6:54 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida bound for the International Space Station.
Rosie the Rocketeer, Boeing’s anthropometric test device, claimed her spot once again in the commander’s seat inside the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for its second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Rosie’s first flight, OFT, provided hundreds of data points about what astronauts will experience during flight. For OFT-2, she will help maintain Starliner’s center of gravity during ascent, docking, undocking and landing. OFT-2 is scheduled to lift off at 6:54 p.m. ET Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida bound for the International Space Station. Photo credit: Boeing/John Proferes

Though no crew will be onboard the spacecraft for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2, the Starliner commander’s seat will be occupied by Rosie the Rocketeer, Boeing’s anthropometric test device. During OFT-1, Rosie was outfitted with 15 sensors to collect data on what astronauts will experience during flights on Starliner. For OFT-2, spacecraft data capture ports previously connected to Rosie’s 15 sensors will be used to collect data from sensors placed along the seat pallet, which is the infrastructure that holds all the crew seats in place.

Atlas V and Boeing Starliner Remain “Go” for Launch

On May 18, 2022, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket roll out from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
On May 18, 2022, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket roll out from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner atop remain “Go” for launch from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape. Starliner’s destination is the International Space Station on its second flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.