Launch preparations are proceeding toward a liftoff of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft 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.
Known as Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), this is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket from launch to docking to a return to Earth in the desert of the western United States. The mission will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.
Starliner will launch uncrewed atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It will automatically dock to the Harmony module’s forward port at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Friday where it will stay for approximately five days of cargo and test operations. NASA TV begins live launch coverage on the NASA app and its website at 6 p.m. today.
On Wednesday, flight controllers notified the space station crew of the possibility of a close pass by orbital debris late Thursday, May 19 and the station executing a debris avoidance maneuver. Additional tracking data received overnight shows there is no longer concern for a close pass and no avoidance maneuver is required.
NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren spent Thursday afternoon setting up hardware and software that will help monitor the arrival of Boeing’s Starliner crew ship on the OFT-2 mission. Earlier, he conducted a pair of tests measuring his cognition and hearing levels to understand microgravity’s long-term effects on humans.
NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins joined ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti conducting cargo operations inside the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter. The commercial cargo craft arrived at the station on Feb. 21 delivering 8,300 pounds of experiments and hardware. Cygnus will depart the station in mid-June loaded with trash and discarded gear for a fiery, but safe destruction above the south Pacific Ocean.
Hines and Watkins started the day collecting and stowing their blood samples for later analysis. Hines later serviced a variety of life support and research hardware. Watkins monitored her glucose level to understand the cardiovascular risk of living and working in space. Cristoforetti collected air samples to demonstrate analyzing trace atmospheric contaminants using the ANITA-2 (Analyzing Interferometer for Ambient Air-2) device.
UPDATE (7 p.m. EDT): During Wednesday evening’s daily planning conference, the International Space Station crew was notified of a possible conjunction with orbital debris late Thursday, May 19. Flight control teams in Houston are assessing options for a potential debris avoidance maneuver on Thursday, pending additional tracking data on the debris expected overnight. Initial plans for an avoidance maneuver would not impact the launch of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, scheduled to liftoff at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, but might slightly alter the timing of some of the rendezvous maneuvers leading to Starliner’s docking to the station. The crew began its sleep shift as scheduled and will resume preparations for the Friday arrival of OFT-2 when it awakens about 2 a.m. Thursday.
Boeing’s Starliner crew ship sits atop the Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance counting down to its launch from Florida to the International Space Station on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 crew concentrated on medical training, exercise systems maintenance, and a variety of advanced space science on Wednesday.
Two NASA astronauts continued preparing for the arrival of Boeing’s uncrewed Starliner spaceship on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission. Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines reviewed Starliner systems and approach and rendezvous procedures ahead of the spacecraft’s automated docking to the Harmony module’s forward port at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Friday. The uncrewed spacecraft is targeted to launch at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The duo will be on duty Friday monitoring Starliner during its three-and-a-half hours of automated approach maneuvers.
Lindgren started his day servicing the advanced resistive exercise device which mimics free weight exercises in microgravity. Hines collected and stowed his urine samples in a science freezer for later analysis to understand the long-term effects of weightlessness on the human body.
Flight Engineers Jessica Watkins of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) worked on a variety of orbital plumbing tasks during Wednesday morning. Watkins also wrapped up a blood pressure measurement session and prepared the health data for downlinking to doctors on Earth. Cristoforetti trained on a computer to increase her proficiency when commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
The quartet also joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov, for a medical emergency training session on Wednesday. The four astronauts and three cosmonauts practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation, reviewed medical hardware, and discussed coordination of care in the event of an emergency on the space station.
Artemyev, the commander of the orbiting lab, also tested using ultrasound sensors for more accurate Earth photography sessions. The veteran cosmonaut then studied ways to improve international coordination between space crews and mission controllers. Matveev joined Artemyev participating in the photography tests and the crew coordination study. Korsakov inventoried and stowed medical gear and also inspected and photographed windows in the Zvezda service module.
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.
Robotics and human research were the dominant research themes aboard the International Space Station on Monday. The Expedition 67 crew also began the workweek maintaining a variety of exercise equipment and life support gear aboard the orbiting lab.
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti spent Monday testing the rHEALTH ONE medical device demonstrating its ability to identify cells, microorganisms, and proteins in microgravity. She also shared photographs of the lunar eclipse from the station as it orbited above the Pacific Ocean northeast of New Zealand.
Station Commander Oleg Artemyev joined Flight Engineer Denis Matveev on Monday on ventilation systems and radiation detection tasks in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov started his day exploring future planetary piloting techniques before servicing a Russian oxygen generator.
The space station is orbiting higher after the ISS Progress 79 cargo craft fired its engines on Saturday afternoon. The orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for Russia’s next cargo craft, the ISS Progress 81, slated to launches on June 3 and docks to the Zvezda service module’s rear port about three-and-a-half hours later.
NASA and Boeing are still proceeding toward the launch of the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 mission at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday. Boeing’s Starliner crew ship is targeted to dock to the Harmony module’s forward port about 24 hours later where it will stay for up to 10 days of cargo and test operations.
The International Space Station is getting ready to welcome Boeing’s new Starliner crew ship due to lift off next week on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 67 crew continued its human research and robotics work today.
NASA Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines continued training for the arrival of the Starliner spacecraft targeted for 7:10 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 20. The duo reviewed the OFT-2 mission profile and practiced the remote commanding of Starliner on a computer. The device that sends and receives data from approaching commercial crew vehicles, Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles (C2V2), was activated earlier this week. Starliner will lift off atop the Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Lindgren and Hines also started the day collecting and stowing their blood samples for later analysis. Hines then activated the Astrobee robotic free-flyer assistants inside the Kibo laboratory module. Lindgren later stowed the toaster-sized, cube-shaped robots after the autonomous devices spent the day demonstrating ways to detect and repair faulty station hardware.
Astronaut Jessica Watkins familiarized herself with Astrobee procedures and swapped components in the station’s waste and hygiene compartment located in the Tranquility module. Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti from ESA (European Space Agency) spent all day Friday testing the rHEALTH ONE medical device for its ability to identify cells, microorganisms, and proteins in microgravity.
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.
The Expedition 67 crew is ramping up for the arrival of Boeing’s new Starliner crew ship due to launch next week to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbital residents continued their ongoing human research, cleaned spacesuits, and maintained lab hardware.
NASA Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines trained on Wednesday for next week’s launch and docking of the Starliner spacecraft on Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). Both astronauts spent part of the day familiarizing themselves with the OFT-2 mission and Boeing’s Starliner vehicle systems. The duo also reviewed Starliner’s post-docking procedures including leak and pressurization checks, entering the vehicle, and cargo operations.
Boeing rolled out its Starliner vehicle to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) launch facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Tuesday. It was attached atop the Atlas-V rocket from ULA later that day. The Starliner crew ship and its rocket now stand vertical at the launch pad counting down to a liftoff targeted for 6:54 p.m. EDT on May 19. The unpiloted Starliner vehicle will automatically dock to the Harmony module’s forward port about 24 hours later where it will stay for cargo and test operations for five to 10 days.
Lindgren ended his day disconnecting and stowing spacesuit components in the U.S. Quest airlock. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti started the spacesuit work Wednesday morning swapping and resizing spacesuit components and cleaning suit cooling loops.
Hines and NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins focused their science activities on human research throughout the work day. Hines began his morning attaching sensors to himself to record data for the Cerebral Autoregulation study that examines how microgravity affects brain structure. Watkins processed blood and urine samples for later analysis and also conducted a regularly scheduled hearing test.
Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Denis Matveev partnered together replacing life support gear in the station’s Russian segment. Artemyev also serviced broadband communications equipment and packed obsolete hardware for disposal inside the ISS Progress 80 resupply ship. Matveev completed a 24-hour session that recorded his heart activity while wearing electrodes. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov worked on ventilation systems and video gear and synchronized a camera to station time which is set to Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT.
Human research took precedence aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday as the seven-member Expedition 67 crew explored how living in space affects the human body. Meanwhile, Boeing’s first crew ship to visit the orbiting lab is targeted to launch late next week.
Hines and Watkins also swapped a virtual reality headset in the Columbus laboratory module as they explored how the human brain adapts to the lack of up and down references in microgravity. Observations will help researchers understand how the lack of gravity affects the way astronauts reach for and grasp objects.
The three cosmonauts spent the majority of their time today working in the station’s Russian segment. Commander Oleg Artemyev partnered with Flight Engineer Denis Matveev servicing a variety of communications and life support hardware. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov worked on ventilation systems and an oxygen generator while also maintaining a pair of Russian laptop computers.
The next spacecraft to visit the space station, Boeing’s Starliner crew ship, is targeted to launch at 6:54 p.m. EDT on May 19 atop an Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance. The unpiloted commercial crew vehicle will liftoff as part of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It would dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing port the next day and depart five to 10 days after that for a parachuted return to Earth.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew ship will roll back to its Vehicle Integration Facility so mission teams can examine the cause of unexpected valve position indications on the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Starliner’s launch targeted for today was halted as a result.
NASA and Boeing are analyzing indications that not all of Starliner’s valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch. The commercial crew partners will take the time necessary to ensure Starliner is ready to launch on Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew explored space physics and transferred cargo from a new Russian science module on Wednesday.
Over in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov partnered up to unpack cargo delivered inside the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The duo then took turns exploring spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques for future planetary missions.
Continued analysis following last week’s event with unplanned thruster firings on Nauka has shown the space station remains in good shape with systems performing normally. Post-event reconstructions showed that the station experienced a total attitude change of approximately 540 degrees. Most importantly, the maximum rate and acceleration of the attitude change did not approach safety limits for station systems and normal operations resumed once attitude control was regained.