Starliner Nears Launch, Crew Works Space Botany and Human Research

The Moon, with Earth's shadow draping across it during a lunar eclipse, is pictured from the International Space Station.
The Moon, with Earth’s shadow draping across it during a lunar eclipse, is pictured from the International Space Station.

The International Space Station is gearing up for the targeted arrival of Boeing’s Starliner crew ship on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 crew is continuing its ongoing life science activities while maintaining orbital lab systems.

Weather forecasters are predicting a 70% chance for favorable weather when Boeing’s OFT-2 mission is scheduled to launch at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday. The Starliner spacecraft will lift off atop the Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Starliner will take a 24-hour automated trip to the station where it will dock to the Harmony module’s forward port for five to 10 days of cargo and test operations.

NASA Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines spent an hour on Tuesday reviewing procedures for Starliner’s approach and docking. The duo will be on duty Friday monitoring Starliner during its three-and-a-half hours of automated approach maneuvers before docking at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Friday.

Lindgren later spent the afternoon participating in a robotics proficiency test before installing seed cartridges and root modules for the xROOTS space botany study. Hines worked on U.S. spacesuit maintenance, partnering with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), swapping and stowing components planned for return on an upcoming SpaceX cargo mission.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins finished wearing a headband and vest after 24 hours for the Bio-Monitor experiment that monitors an astronaut’s health without interfering with mobility. Watkins also checked her blood pressure throughout the day for the Vascular Echo study that examines changes in blood vessels and cardiac activity in microgravity.

The station’s three cosmonauts from Roscosmos focused on their list of science and maintenance tasks in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov updated software and replaced a laptop computer then explored ways to improve communications between station crew members and mission controllers from around the world. Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Denis Matveev joined each other Tuesday morning and serviced exercise gear. The duo then split up to work on broadband communications gear and inventory tools.

Televised Prelaunch Briefing Set for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on May 4th, 2022.
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on May 4, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

NASA will hold a prelaunch briefing on Tuesday, May 17, at noon, following completion of the Launch Readiness Review for Boeing’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Briefing participants are:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Dana Weigel, deputy International Space Station Program manager
  • Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
  • Gary Wentz, vice president, Government and Commercial Programs, United Launch Alliance
  • Will Ulrich, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force, 45th Weather Squadron, Space Launch Delta 45

Watch the briefing live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 70% chance of favorable weather for launch at 6:54 p.m. Thursday, May 19, with the possibility of cumulus cloud and anvil cloud rules posing the main concern.

View all of the OFT-2 prelaunch briefings and events. More details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found in the online press kit and by following the @commercial_crew on Twitter and commercial crew on Facebook.

Life Science, Robotics on Station Today; Starliner Nears Launch

NASA astronauts (from left) Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Kayla Barron, and Jessica Watkins work inside the Columbus laboratory module on May 2, 2022.
NASA astronauts (from left) Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Kayla Barron, and Jessica Watkins work inside the Columbus laboratory module on May 2, 2022.

Human research, space botany, and robotics were the main research themes for the Expedition 67 crew aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. Meanwhile, mission managers conducted a Flight Readiness Review ahead of the launch of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission scheduled for next week.

The orbiting lab’s four astronauts, including Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti, kicked off the day with a quick health check. The quartet used the EveryWear app on an iPad that collects and downloads medical data for review by doctors on Earth. A variety of hardware such as a smart shirt that records cardiac activity, a wireless sensor that monitors heart rate, and a tonometer that measures pressure in eyes and blood vessels, contributes to the data that EveryWear collects.

Lindgren, Hines, and Watkins also took turns collecting and stowing their blood and urine samples for later analysis. Cristoforetti spent most of her morning on the Acoustic Diagnostics experiment that explores how the station’s noise levels affect a crew member’s hearing.

Lindgren also worked on the XROOTS botany study that investigates using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants in microgravity. Afterward, he joined Hines and reviewed procedures for operating the Astrobee robotic free-flying assistants. Watkins and Cristoforetti worked on orbital plumbing tasks and cupola window maintenance respectively.

The station’s three cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, continued their complement of science and maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment.

NASA and Boeing mission managers completed a Flight Readiness Review on Wednesday and are proceeding toward the launch of the OFT-2 mission at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19. Boeing’s unpiloted Starliner will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and automatically dock to the Harmony module’s forward port about 24 hours later. It will stay at the station for cargo and test operations for five to 10 days before parachuting back to Earth.


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.

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Flight Readiness Concludes, Media Teleconference Set for 5:30 p.m.

NASA and Boeing managers take part in the Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, May 11, 2022. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19. The uncrewed flight test will be Starliner’s second flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA and Boeing managers take part in the Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, May 11, 2022. The uncrewed flight test will be Starliner’s second flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: NASA/Amber Jean Notvest

The Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a 6:54 p.m. liftoff on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA will hold a media teleconference at approximately 5:30 p.m. to discuss the outcome of the review. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website.

Participants in the teleconference are:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Emily Nelson, acting chief flight director, NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program

Media may ask questions via phone only. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

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

Flight Readiness Review Begins for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolled out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022. The spacecraft made the trip to the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station where it was secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolled out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022. The spacecraft made the trip to the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station where it was secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Teams from NASA and Boeing are gathered Wednesday, May 11, for the Flight Readiness Review at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for NASA Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The review is an in-depth assessment on the readiness of flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner system, mission operations, support functions and readiness of the space station program to support the uncrewed flight to the International Space Station. Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters, is leading the meeting. The senior Boeing official at the review is Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. The meeting will conclude with a poll of all members of the review board.

Starliner is targeted to launch at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida to rendezvous and dock with the orbiting laboratory. The flight test will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

At 6 p.m. or one hour after the readiness review concludes, NASA and Boeing will hold a media teleconference to discuss the readiness review and status to flight with the following participants:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Emily Nelson, acting chief flight director, NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program

The teleconference will be streamed on NASA’s website. Media may ask questions via phone only. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

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

Starliner Joins Atlas V at Space Launch Complex-41

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022, on its way to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

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)

CST-100 Starliner and Atlas V rocket
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft are fully assembled in preparation for an integrated systems test. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

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.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Media Invited to Joint Teleconference for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2

Starliner
A new service module was mated to a Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew module to form a complete spacecraft on March 12, 2022, in Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for Boeing’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: Boeing

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 ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

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 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.

 

Starliner Returns to Factory, Preparations Underway to Resolve Valve Issue

OFT-2 Starliner spacecraft
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. Photo credit: Boeing

Teams from Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) safely returned the CST-100 Starliner to its production facility in Florida on Aug. 19 for continued work on the spacecraft’s service module propulsion system.

The Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft was removed from its Atlas V rocket inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and returned to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The team now will perform propulsion system checkouts inside the factory’s hazardous processing area and determine the appropriate vehicle configuration for accessing and analyzing the system further. NASA and Boeing will recommend forward work as part of a formal process designed to aid in determining root cause and remediation steps.

In the weeks ahead, engineering teams from NASA and Boeing will work to diagnose and ultimately resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 countdown for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2, and resulted in the decision to postpone the launch destined for the International Space Station.

NASA, Boeing, and ULA will establish a new launch date once the issue is resolved.