On Wednesday, May 4, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner was joined with the rocket that will launch the spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station on an uncrewed flight test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
During the operation, Starliner rolled out of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and made its way to Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in preparation for the company’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2)
Starliner was raised and carefully placed onto the rocket and now is fully assembled and ready for an integrated systems test, a tip-to-tail electrical check of the 172-foot-tall Atlas V and Starliner stack.
OFT-2 is scheduled to launch Thursday, May 19, to demonstrate the system’s human transportation capabilities.
About 24 hours after launch, Starliner will rendezvous and dock to the space station and then return to Earth five to 10 days later. The test is the last flight before the Starliner system launches American astronauts on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the microgravity laboratory – the spacecraft’s first flight test with crew on board. Potential launch windows for CFT are under review and will be determined after a safe and successful OFT-2.
NASA and Boeing will hold a joint media teleconference at noon EDT on Tuesday, May 3, to discuss the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission and provide an update on spacecraft readiness.
The teleconference includes the following participants:
Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
Michelle Parker, vice president and deputy general manager, Space and Launch, Boeing
Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, CST-100 Starliner, Boeing
OFT-2 is scheduled to launch on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s uncrewed CST-100 Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for its flight test to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Starliner is expected to arrive at the space station for docking about 24 hours later with more than 500 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies. After a successful docking, Starliner will spend five to 10 days aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in the western United States. The spacecraft will return with nearly 600 pounds of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.
Media wishing to participate in the OFT-2 mission overview news teleconference must RSVP by 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 3, by emailing the Kennedy newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NASA and Boeing continue making progress toward the agency’s upcoming Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Teams recently completed offloading fuel from the OFT-2 spacecraft inside Starliner’s production factory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for separating and replacing the current service module (SM2) from the crew module.
“The Starliner team and successful completion of the spacecraft’s development phase are critical to sustaining International Space Station operations through 2030,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program. “The team’s dedication to developing effective remedies and corrective action after our first OFT-2 launch attempt demonstrates their continued commitment to safely flying NASA crews for years to come.”
In December, Boeing decided to move up service modules currently in production for its upcoming uncrewed and crewed flight tests. The service module originally planned for the Crew Flight Test (CFT) is now being used for OFT-2, and the service module originally planned for Starliner’s first post-certification mission, Starliner-1, now will be used for CFT.
With fuel offload complete, the spacecraft was moved out of the hazardous processing area and into the production factory high bay.
“Because this is not an operation that we normally perform, our team took the time to fully coordinate and assess the proper spacecraft and ground support equipment configurations, and then execute to plan to ensure the safety of our team,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program.
Once separated in the coming weeks from the OFT-2 crew module, SM2 will be sent to NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico for additional testing related to the issue affecting the spacecraft’s oxidizer isolation valves.
The investigation into the valve issue continues to substantiate that the most probable cause is interaction of moisture with nitrogen tetroxide that permeates through the Teflon seal in the valve, leading to corrosion. Testing continues to fully understand how this occurrence affects the valves in various environments.
Tests include environmental seal evaluation and exposing valves, in a controlled setting, to temperatures and conditions similar to those the spacecraft experienced prior to the planned launch of OFT-2. The results of these tests will help in the ongoing development of remediation efforts to prevent similar issues on future service modules.
For example, the team designed a purging system that will be integrated into the spacecraft to protect the valves from potential exposure to moisture at the factory, launch complex, and launch pad.
Progress also continues with production of the new service module (SM4) that will go onto the OFT-2 crew module. That service module was recently moved from the low bay production area to the factory’s hazardous processing area for high pressure leak testing. Remaining tasks before mating this service module with the OFT-2 crew module include acceptance testing, final wire harness mating, installation of solar array panels, and final closeouts.
NASA and Boeing continue to work toward an opening in United Launch Alliance’s launch window availability in May for OFT-2. An actual launch date will be determined closer to spacecraft readiness, and with consideration of Eastern Range and International Space Station availability. Potential launch windows for CFT are under review and will be determined after a safe and successful OFT-2.
NASA and Boeing will hold a joint teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 19, to update media on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Teams will discuss work on the oxidizer isolation valve issue that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.
Participants in the briefing will be:
Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
Michelle Parker, chief engineer, Boeing Space and Launch
To participate in the teleconference, media must contact email@example.com by 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19 for the dial-in information.
The OFT-2 mission will launch Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Starliner will dock to the space station before returning to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test flight to prove the system is ready to fly crew.
Editor’s note: This blog was updated Oct. 8 to reflect that the team is working toward launch opportunities in the first half of 2022 for Orbital Flight Test-2.
The NASA, Boeing team continues to make progress on the investigation of the oxidizer isolation valve issue on the Starliner service module propulsion system that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.
“I am proud of the work our integrated teams are doing,” said Steve Stich, manager of the Commercial Crew Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “This is a complex issue involving hazardous commodities and intricate areas of the spacecraft that are not easily accessed. It has taken a methodical approach and sound engineering to effectively examine.”
Boeing has demonstrated success in valve functionality using localized heating and electrical charging techniques. Troubleshooting on the pad, at the launch complex, and inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center has resulted in movement of all but one of the original stuck valves. That valve has not been moved intentionally to preserve forensics for direct root cause analysis.
Most items on the fault tree have been dispositioned by the team including causes related to avionics, flight software and wiring. Boeing has identified a most probable cause related to oxidizer and moisture interactions, and although some verification work remains underway, our confidence is high enough that we are commencing corrective and preventive actions. Additional spacecraft and component testing will be conducted in the coming weeks to further explore contributing factors and necessary system remediation before flight.
Boeing completed a partial disassembly of three of the affected Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) thruster valves last month and plans to remove three valves from the OFT-2 spacecraft in the coming weeks for further inspection. The team also is evaluating additional testing to repeat the initial valve failures.
Boeing has identified several paths forward depending on the outcome of the testing to ultimately resolve the issue and prevent it from happening on future flights. These options could range from minor refurbishment of the current service module components to using another service module already in production. Each option is dependent on data points the team expects to collect in the coming weeks including a timeline for safely proceeding back to the launch pad.
“Safety of the Starliner spacecraft, our employees, and our crew members is this team’s number one priority,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Starliner program. “We are taking the appropriate amount of time to work through the process now to set this system up for success on OFT-2 and all future Starliner missions.”
Potential launch windows for OFT-2 continue to be assessed by NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, and the Eastern Range. The team currently is working toward opportunities in the first half of 2022 pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest, and space station availability.
NASA continues to work side-by-side with Boeing to understanding the CST-100 Starliner’s service module valve performance, including the unexpected indications some of the valves were in the closed position during its Aug. 3 launch attempt of Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2).
With troubleshooting ongoing in the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Starliner will be powered and run through various procedures to help understand the issue, NASA will move forward with the launch and berthing of an important cargo mission to the International Space Station.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to launch on the company’s Antares rocket at 5:56 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, with capture and berthing scheduled two days later at about 6:10 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 12.
In parallel, managers and engineers with NASA and Boeing will continue to evaluate schedules based on where the troubleshooting efforts take them before deciding when the next official launch for the OFT-2 mission will take place.
The rollout of the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V launch vehicle is now targeted for Thursday, July 29 at 8 a.m. EDT.
The delay is due to an internet service provider outage that could not be resolved before the onset of predicted weather exceeding operational constraints. The OFT-2 launch, planned for Friday, July 30, at 2:53 p.m. EDT, remains on track.
Teams from NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance completed a launch readiness review on July 27 ahead of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station. The launch teams still are “go” for launch of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a mission to the microgravity laboratory on the company’s second uncrewed flight test.
Launch is scheduled at 2:53 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
At 1 p.m., NASA will host a prelaunch news briefing at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Participants are:
Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
Gary Wentz, vice president, Government and Commercial Programs, ULA
Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
Will Ulrich, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force, 45th Weather Squadron
For a launch Friday, meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 40% chance of favorable weather. The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus cloud rule, surface electric rule and lightning rule violations during the instantaneous launch window.
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.