NASA, Boeing Teams Achieve Milestone Ahead of Crewed Flight

NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test AMR rehearsal
From left, Starliner Flight Crew Integration Manager Tony Ceccacci, and NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams participate in a mission rehearsal at Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Lab in Houston. Photo credit: Boeing/Steven Siceloff

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.”

Teams Train for Starliner’s First Crewed Flight

The NASA astronauts for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) arrive in the high bay of Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 18, 2022. From left are Suni Williams, pilot; Barry “Butch” Wilmore, commander; and Mike Fincke, CFT backup spacecraft test pilot.
The NASA astronauts for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) arrive in the high bay of Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 18, 2022. From left are Suni Williams, pilot; Barry “Butch” Wilmore, commander; and Mike Fincke, CFT backup spacecraft test pilot. Photo credit: Boeing

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.

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

NASA Updates Commercial Crew Flight Manifest to Space Station

NASA meatballNASA and its mission partners are gearing up for a busy 2023 with crew launches and returns from the International Space Station. NASA worked closely with its international partners and commercial crew providers, Boeing and SpaceX, to secure new target launch dates for the upcoming flights that are optimal for space station needs.

NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams
NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams pose for a picture during T-38 pre-flight activities at Ellington Field in Houston on Aug. 16, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Starliner Flight Date Targets

NASA and Boeing now are targeting April 2023 for the agency’s Crew Flight Test (CFT), the first flight with astronauts on the company’s CST-100 Starliner. The date adjustment deconflicts visiting spacecraft traffic at the space station as NASA and Boeing work together to achieve flight readiness.

The team continues to make progress toward Starliner’s crewed flight following the successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the space station in May. Starliner and United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket hardware remain on track for readiness in early 2023. The joint team continues to close out the OFT-2 anomalies and partner closely together to identify forward work and ensure all requirements for crewed flight are met. NASA and Boeing currently are working on a variety of verification efforts across several critical systems that will be used for Starliner’s crew flight certification.

For CFT, Boeing recently completed the exterior of the Starliner crew module with the installation of the forward heat shield and entry cover. The previously flown crew module, named Calypso, will be connected to a new service module later this year. Formal qualification testing on the CFT version of Starliner’s flight software was completed last month. NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams, CFT’s commander and pilot, respectively, and Mike Fincke, backup spacecraft test pilot, along with the Boeing team, also successfully completed the crew validation test during which the astronauts suited up and tested out the pressurized crew module to ensure seat fit, suit functionality, cabin temperature, audio system and day of launch operations.

The CFT astronauts will live and work on the space station for about two weeks. Following a successful crewed flight, NASA will work to complete certification of the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation missions to the space station. A launch date for NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission will be determined following a successful flight test with astronauts and close out of the agency’s certification work.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Oct. 1, 2022, four days before liftoff of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

SpaceX Flight Date Targets

NASA and SpaceX are targeting mid-February 2023, for launch of the agency’s Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch Dragon and NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev to the space station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will spend approximately six months on the space station, starting with a short handover with Crew-5, which arrived at the station in October for a science expedition at the microgravity laboratory.

SpaceX certification and Falcon 9 hardware remain on track for the sixth crew rotation mission of the company’s human space transportation system and its seventh flight with NASA astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, to the space station.

The Crew-6 mission will be Dragon Endeavour’s fourth flight to the space station, which previously supported the Demo-2, Crew-2, and Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1)  missions, making the spacecraft the fleet leader in number of flights to and from the station. The Dragon spacecraft currently is undergoing refurbishment at SpaceX’s Dragonland facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

NASA and SpaceX also are targeting fall 2023 for launch of the agency’s Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station, ahead of the return of Crew-6.

Find out more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

 

Starliner Lands in New Mexico, Completes Station Mission

Boeing's #Starliner crew ship parachutes to a landing in New Mexico completing the company's Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Credit: NASA TV
Boeing’s #Starliner crew ship parachutes to a landing in New Mexico completing the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Credit: NASA TV

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed its touchdown at 6:49 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, wrapping up the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner settled gently onto its air bags following a parachute-assisted landing that helps set the stage for future crewed landings. The landing followed a deorbit burn at 6:05 p.m., separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 9 p.m. on NASA TV from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Suni Williams, NASA astronaut
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing

Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed spacecraft successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. Friday, May 20.


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 the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Starliner Fires Engines, Returning to Earth for Landing

Boeing's Starliner crew ship approaches the space station on the company's Orbital Flight Test-2 mission on May 20, 2022.
Boeing’s Starliner crew ship approaches the space station on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission on May 20, 2022.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

At 6:05 p.m. EDT, the spacecraft began its deorbit burn that puts Starliner on the right path to land at 6:49 p.m. White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. The service module has successfully separated from the crew module containing Rosie the rocketeer, an anthropometric test device who will help maintain Starliner’s center of gravity from ascent through landing. During OFT-1, Rosie was outfitted with 15 sensors to collect data on what astronauts will experience during flights on Starliner.

At 6:44 p.m. the drogue parachute will be released, pulling out the spacecraft’s three main parachutes at 6:45 p.m. that will slow the capsule to a safe landing on Earth.


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 the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Starliner Nearing Return to Earth

This view from a window on the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship shows Boeing's Starliner crew ship moments away from docking to the station on May 20, 2022.
This view from a window on the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship shows Boeing’s Starliner crew ship moments away from docking to the station on May 20, 2022.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage of the return to Earth for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. The uncrewed Starliner is expected to land at 6:49 p.m. EDT White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.

If all conditions are “go” for Starliner’s return, the deorbit burn will be conducted at 6:05 p.m. Within minutes, the service module will separate from the crew module to prepare for landing at 6:49 p.m.


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 the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Starliner Undocks from Station, Heads Toward Earth

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25, completing about 5-days attached to the microgravity laboratory as part of its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2. At undocking, Starliner and the space station were flying over Earth south of Bangkok, Thailand.

Starliner will execute a deorbit burn at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, to begin the final phase of its return to Earth, headed for a parachute-assisted landing about 6:49 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Live coverage for the deorbit burn and landing will begin 5:45 p.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 9 p.m. on NASA TV from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Suni Williams, NASA astronaut
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing

Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 6:54 p.m. Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed spacecraft successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. Friday, May 20.


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 the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

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.