NASA, Boeing Prepare to Replace Starliner Service Modules Ahead of Upcoming Orbital Flight Test-2

Starliner technicians work on the Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft in the high bay of Boeing's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 13, 2022.
Starliner technicians work on the Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft in the high bay of Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 13, 2022.

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.

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.

NASA, Boeing to Provide Update on Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: Boeing

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

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: https://www.nasa.gov/live.

To participate in the teleconference, media must contact ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov 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.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at: https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.

 

Orbital Flight Test-2 Starliner, Atlas V Roll Return to Launch Pad

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, Thursday, July 29, 2021 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 will be Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, Thursday, July 29, 2021 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 will be Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

This morning, Aug. 2, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket rolled out of the ULA Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to return to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida ahead of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Starliner and the Atlas V rocket made the first trip to the launch pad on July 29, but rolled back to the VIF on July 30 to avoid potential inclement weather.

For a launch Tuesday, meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather. The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus cloud rule, lightning rule, and thick cloud rule violations during the instantaneous launch window.

NASA TV will cover the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities. Mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, Aug. 3

12:30 p.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for a targeted 1:20 p.m. liftoff. NASA TV will have continuous coverage through Starliner orbital insertion.

3:30 p.m. (approximately) – Postlaunch news conference on NASA TV.

Wednesday, Aug. 4

10:30 a.m. – NASA TV rendezvous and docking coverage begins.

1:37 p.m. (scheduled) – Docking

Thursday, Aug. 5

8:30 a.m. – NASA TV hatch opening coverage begins

8:40 a.m. – Hatch opening

9:40 a.m. (approximately) – Welcoming remarks

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

Public Shares Zero-G Indicator Ideas for NASA’s Boeing Starliner Launch

Expedition 65 prime crew member Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, holds up a toy cat that will be used in the Soyuz capsule to help indicate the start of weightlessness after leaving the Earth’s atmosphere.
Expedition 65 prime crew member Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos holds up a toy cat used in the Soyuz capsule to help indicate the start of weightlessness after leaving the Earth’s atmosphere. Stuffed animals are a traditional category for zero-gravity indicators. Photo credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

We asked our virtual guests what they would take with them as a zero-gravity indicator if they were launching on the Boeing Starliner spacecraft on July 30 for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. More than 2,600 of you responded. Two large categories of items emerged: stuffed animals and balls.

Nearly 10% of people suggested something stuffed. This is a traditional category for zero-gravity indicators. Some guests suggested very specific stuffed animals – Snoopy, Baby Yoda, Fiona the hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo, or a something that had been in their family for multiple generations.

We don’t know where they’re shopping, but a few guests suggested stuffed people, Tory Bruno of United Launch Alliance, Jeff Goldblum, and Patrick Star from Sponge Bob fame to be exact. One guest had the lovely idea that “stuffed animals of some sort that would then be donated to sick children.”

Another 10% of respondents suggested some type of ball – or every type of ball. There were tennis balls, baseballs, bouncy balls, disco balls, cannon balls, and balls of yarn. There was the very specific Euro 2020 official football. Finally, there was a handful of very wise respondents packing stress balls.

Water was another frequent suggestion – sometimes with a goldfish in it for good measure, sometimes with an eye toward drinking it if need be! Balloons, books, and M&M’s also were mentioned in multiples. The few suggestions of glitter would no doubt be to the consternation of Starliner engineers! One guest hurt our heads by suggesting “a toy Starliner with a smaller Starliner inside the toy, and to check for zero gravity we look inside the toy to see if the smaller Starliner is floating.”

Our favorite suggestion? A clear cube containing everyone’s name on a card who registered for the event.  We’d have trouble fitting the more than 13,000 of you there! But we love the thought.

We’d love to have you along for the next virtual guest program – you can join our standing list or register for specific upcoming missions by visiting nasa.gov/virtualguest. In addition to sharing their thoughts on a launch-related question, virtual guests receive emails with curated launch resources, notifications about NASA activities, and updates on any launch time or date changes.

Whether it’s your first stamp or your eighth, NASA hopes you’ll print, fold, and get ready to fill your virtual passport. Stamps will be emailed following docking to all virtual attendees who registered by email.

Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Starliner is targeted for 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Starliner Spacecraft Rollout Targeted for Thursday Morning

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket will roll out to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Thursday morning. Photo credit: Boeing/Damon Tucci

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.

For more information about NASA’s commercial crew program, follow the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and
commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 Mission Remains on Target

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to be flown on Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is seen in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2. Part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Photo credit: Boeing

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.

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 @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Atlas V Rocket Assembled for Starliner Launch to International Space Station

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket
Engineers in United Launch Alliance’s Vertical Integration Facility used large cranes to assemble the stages of the company’s Atlas V rocket, in preparation for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket is assembled in preparation for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Engineers in ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) used large cranes to assemble the stages of the rocket in an upright position on its mobile launch platform, which will carry the Atlas V and Starliner from the VIF to the pad for launch.

To verify the rocket is ready to launch, technicians will soon power the Atlas V to test flight controls, check the engine steering profiles, and conduct a combined systems test.

The 172-foot-tall rocket will be fully completed when the Starliner is mounted aboard the Atlas V. A ULA payload transporter will move the capsule from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at the Kennedy Space Center to the nearby VIF for attachment.

The Atlas V will propel Starliner off the pad on 1.6 million pounds of thrust on its second uncrewed flight test from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida no earlier than July 30.

As Boeing’s second uncrewed flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 will serve as an end-to-end flight test to prove the Atlas V rocket and Starliner are ready for regular missions launching astronauts to and from the space station.

Learn more about ULA’s Atlas V and stacking.

More details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA and Boeing Progress Toward July Launch of Second Starliner Flight Test

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to be flown on Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is seen in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2. Part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA.
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to be flown on Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is seen in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2. Part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Photo credit: Boeing

NASA and Boeing are continuing preparations ahead of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight to prove the system can safely carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Teams inside the Starliner production factory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently began fueling the Starliner crew module and service module in preparation for launch of Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) at 2:53 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 30. The fueling operations are expected to complete this week as teams load propellant inside the facility’s Hazardous Processing Area and perform final spacecraft checks.

In the weeks ahead, mission control teams in Florida and Texas will continue conducting simulated mission dress rehearsals for the uncrewed OFT-2 and follow-on crewed missions. Starliner’s landing and recovery teams also will perform an on-site checkout of one of the vehicle’s landing zones.

Read the full story here.

NASA, Boeing Update Launch Target for Next Starliner Flight Test

Boeing Starliner
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undergoes preparations for the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 28, 2021. Photo credit: Boeing

NASA and Boeing are targeting 2:53 pm EDT Friday, July 30, for the launch of the company’s Starliner uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. The updated launch target is supported by the station’s visiting vehicle schedule, Starliner readiness, and the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

“NASA and Boeing have done an incredible amount of work to get to this point,” said Steve Stich, Commercial Crew Program manager. “Our teams are ready for this important mission due to the coordinated efforts of many, including United Launch Alliance, NASA’s Launch Services Program, and the U.S. Space Force, which enabled us to establish this launch opportunity. We are looking forward to a successful OFT-2 mission.”

Boeing recently completed end-to-end testing of Starliner’s fight software by flying a five-day simulated OFT-2 mission to the station. The company will continue supporting NASA’s post-test reviews. All actions recommended by the NASA-Boeing Joint Independent Review Team following Starliner’s uncrewed first flight test in December 2019 are complete and pending closure by NASA.

Boeing also will continue processing hardware for its first flight of astronauts – the Crew Flight Test – until mid-summer. OFT-2 launch activities, including loading cargo and fueling the spacecraft are scheduled to begin around this time.

A launch on July 30 would lead to rendezvous and docking with the space station on the evening of Saturday, July 31.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

NASA, Boeing Update Starliner Orbital Flight Test Date

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft
NASA and Boeing teams are adjusting the launch date of Orbital Flight Test-2 to allow more time for CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and hardware processing. Photo credit: Boeing/John Proferes

NASA and Boeing now are targeting no earlier than Friday, April 2, for launch of the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station.

As preparations continue for the second uncrewed flight test, teams remain focused on the safety and quality of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and successful launch of the end-to-end test to prove the system is ready to begin flying astronauts to and from the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Teams are adjusting the launch date to allow more time for spacecraft and hardware processing. Ahead of final propellant loading, the company recently replaced avionics units affected as a result of a power surge due to a ground support equipment configuration issue during final checkouts.

“NASA continues to work alongside Boeing to prepare for this first mission of 2021,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “The Boeing and NASA teamwork on all aspects of flight preparation including final certification, hazard analysis, and software testing is extraordinary. Even though this uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station is a key milestone on the path to the first Starliner crewed mission planned for later this year, we will fly when we are ready.”

With formal software tests completed, Boeing is continuing with flight preparations. The company is ready to conduct an end-to-end mission rehearsal, using high-fidelity flight hardware and final flight software, to ensure the readiness of the team and combined systems.

Boeing continues to support NASA as it reviews flight readiness, and teams have completed about 95% of the recommendations identified by the joint NASA and Boeing Independent Review Team, formed following the anomalies during the company’s first uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019.

“We appreciate the significant work NASA is undertaking ahead of launch,” said John Vollmer, Starliner’s vice president and program manager at Boeing. “We’re fully engaged in the agency’s review process as a valuable investment of our time to ensure confidence in the spacecraft.”