During CEIT, Wilmore and Williams, along with NASA astronaut and backup test pilot Mike Fincke, performed hands-on training with the tools, equipment, and hardware they will use on orbit. They worked with the Starliner team to perform in-cabin checkouts, including adjusting the spacecraft seats, inspecting spacecraft interfaces, examining cargo, and conducting floor panel and side hatch operations.
The second part of the test is scheduled to occur in early March, and will include the astronauts maneuvering inside the cabin with cargo installed in the spacecraft.
Wilmore and Williams are slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41 in Florida no earlier than mid-to-late April 2023. They will fly aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, powered by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The Crew Flight Test will demonstrate the ability of Starliner and the Atlas V rocket to safely carry astronauts to and from the space station. Following a successful test flight with astronauts, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation flights to the space station.
NASA and Boeing held a mission overview media teleconference Friday to provide a status update on the first astronaut flight test of the company’s CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station.
During the call, managers shared mission progress and discussed upcoming milestones ahead of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), which is targeted to launch no earlier than mid-to-late April to the microgravity laboratory.
CFT is the final flight test prior to regular crewed missions to the space station on the next-generation system. For CFT, the Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, returning approximately eight days later in White Sands, New Mexico. The flight will carry two NASA astronaut test pilots, Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams, on the demonstration flight to prove the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system.
Following a successful test flight with astronauts, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation flights to the space station.
NASA and Boeing recently completed a full start to finish integrated mission dress rehearsal for the company’s CST-100 Starliner flight with astronauts to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch in April 2023.
The Crew Flight Test, or CFT, will launch NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams on Starliner – atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket – from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
During several days at Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Lab (ASIL) in Houston, the ASIL Mission Rehearsal (AMR) combined tests of software and crew systems, along with operations teams. The completion of the end-to-end mission rehearsal clears a path for the next CFT milestones, including working with the crew and flight controllers on various integrated failure scenarios and a series of flight-day parameter updates that will become available as the team nears launch day.
“Testing is a key component to the success of a human space program,” said NASA Commercial Crew Program Software Certification Manager Chad Schaeffer. “The AMR and the integrated failure scenarios are excellent examples of the rigorous testing teams are performing on Starliner. The rehearsal went well and reflects the continued improvement in executing this test and helps pave the way to the much anticipated first crewed flight.”
During the rehearsal, Wilmore and Williams, along with fellow NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, worked through mission milestones in coordination with mission operations teams located inside flight control rooms at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Starliner engineering teammates also supported from Boeing’s Mission Control Center located in Florida.
The crew members worked in a flight deck simulator networked to control rooms and avionics, operating the same software that will be used during CFT. They effectively demonstrated the software is ready to operate Starliner during prelaunch, launch, docking to the space station, undocking, and the return to Earth through landing.
The AMR provided end-to-end testing of hardware configuration, software, communications, preparation configuring hardware and software, routing communications channels, and mapping simulated sensor data. Similar testing was performed ahead of NASA and Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission in early 2022.
“We began conducting AMRs with the creation of OFT-2, and the integrated team has continued to get more efficient with each rehearsal,” said Aaron Kraftcheck, Starliner avionics software integration and test manager. “With the participation of our astronauts in this CFT AMR, we have enhanced the team dynamics, and continued to learn and adjust, which is what AMR is all about.”
NASA and Boeing teams continue to conduct training and testing ahead of the Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), scheduled to launch in April 2023 to the International Space Station for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
For the crewed flight test, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, returning approximately eight days later in White Sands, New Mexico.
Most recently, the CFT Super Suited Week took place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in late October through early November. During the training, NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams, CFT commander and pilot, respectively, and Mike Fincke, CFT backup spacecraft test pilot, donned their spacesuits while participating in various simulations, good day and bad day scenarios, and spacecraft ingress and egress. The event also gave the crew extended time to get comfortable wearing their suits.
Prior to that, the astronauts participated in a crew validation test in October to evaluate and fine tune operations. These tests provide astronauts with hands-on training while giving the launch pad crew further experience with crucial tasks. In addition, teams can address issues encountered during previous checks and identify items that still need to be resolved prior to launch.
During the exercise, the astronauts suited up and tested the pressurized crew module to assess seat fit, suit functionality, cabin temperature, audio, and day of launch operations. The teams cycled through different environmental control configurations and flow rates, including oxygen and emergency gas, so the crew will be accustomed to a variety of scenarios on orbit. The astronauts also familiarized themselves with camera, tablet, and wireless application set-up. Communication checks went well between the Mission Control Center and the crew in the spacecraft.
Overall, the training activities gave the astronauts and support teams confidence in operations and built their knowledge base for subsequent flight preparation activities.
“Preparing for this flight doesn’t feel like traditional training that Suni and I went through for missions on the space shuttle or Soyuz,” Wilmore said. “We’re thoroughly embedded in all aspects of developing a brand-new spacecraft, making this more akin to an experimental process. The entire team is learning how to plan, train, and fly Starliner into space.”
Following a successful CFT mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for crew missions to the space station. Regular, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the research and technology investigations taking place aboard the orbiting laboratory. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which include landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.
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.
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.
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.
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.