NASA and Boeing continued work over the weekend and Monday morning on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft service module propulsion system in preparation for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station.
Work progressed to restore functionality to several valves in the Starliner propulsion system that did not open as designed during the launch countdown for the Aug. 3 launch attempt. The valves connect to thrusters that enable abort and in-orbit maneuvering.
With the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V and Starliner in the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) near Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, engineering teams are able to power on Starliner allowing the vehicle to receive commands, and have direct access to the spacecraft for troubleshooting.
Inside the VIF, Boeing has been able to command seven of 13 valves open that previously were in the closed position. Test teams are applying mechanical, electrical and thermal techniques to prompt the valves to open, and are moving forward with a systematic plan to open the remainder of the affected valves, demonstrate repeatable system performance, and verify the root cause of the issue before returning Starliner to the launch pad for its Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.
Boeing also has completed physical inspections and chemical sampling on the exterior of a number of the affected valves, which indicated no signs of damage or external corrosion.
In the coming days, NASA and Boeing will continue work to bring all affected valves into the proper configuration. If all valve functionality can be restored and root cause identified, NASA will work with Boeing to determine a path to flight for the important uncrewed mission to the space station.
NASA, Boeing and ULA are assessing the potential for several launch opportunities with the earliest available in mid-August. Any launch date options would protect for the planetary window for the agency’s Lucy mission – the first-ever mission to explore Trojan asteroids.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is targeted for launch on Tuesday at 1:20 p.m. EDT atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Meteorologists predict a 60% chance of favorable weather at the launch pad on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
All is well aboard the orbiting lab today as all seven Expedition 65 crew members focus on physics research, spacesuit maintenance and station upkeep. The orbital residents are also gearing up for the next U.S. cargo mission to resupply the station.
Flight Engineers Megan McArthur joined Thomas Pesquet for several runs of the InSpace-4 nanoparticle study throughout Monday. The duo from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) took turns working inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the space-manufacturing investigation. InSpace-4 seeks to develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve and strengthen spacecraft and Earthbound systems.
Both astronauts also trained on a computer for the rendezvous and capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter planned for Aug. 12 at 6:10 a.m. NASA TV will cover Cygnus’ station arrival including its launch scheduled on Aug. 10 at 5:56 p.m.
Pesquet moved on and assisted Commander Akihiko Hoshide inside the Quest airlock and serviced a pair U.S. spacesuits ahead of an upcoming spacewalk for more roll-out solar array work. NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei worked on a variety of science, communications hardware and life support throughout Monday.
This morning, July 29, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket rolled out of the ULA Vertical Integration Facility 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 2:53 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 30.
Current weather shows a 50 percent chance of favorable conditions. Cumulous clouds, surface electricity, and lightning remain the primary concerns for the instantaneous launch window.
OFT-2, Boeing’s second uncrewed flight, is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA will host two briefings on Thursday, July 29, in advance of the mission. Participants include NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, agency leaders, as well as the crew of Boeing’s Crew Flight Test, the mission that will follow the OFT-2 mission. NASA TV launch coverage begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 30, and will provide continuous coverage through Starliner orbital insertion.
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 and Boeing are taking another major step on the path to regular human spaceflight launches to the International Space Station on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil with the second uncrewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is targeting launch of the Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Starliner is expected to arrive at the space station for docking about 24 hours later with more than 400 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies.
The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. OFT-2 will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing’s crew transportation system to carry astronauts to and from the space station.