Boeing’s manned mission on the Starliner ISS spacecraft • The Register

Boeing’s first Starliner spacecraft launch, carrying its first-ever crew of astronauts to the International Space Station, is again delayed and scheduled to fly no earlier than July 21.

A Boeing Starliner landing system will be tested for reliability as early as 2020 at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.  Photo credit: NASA/Boeing

A Boeing Starliner landing system is tested for reliability at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Photo credit: NASA/Boeing

Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, confirmed the delay on a media conference call on Wednesday. Officials from the space agency and Boeing need more time to assess the capsule and avoid conflicts with upcoming flights to the ISS.

Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission has suffered repeated setbacks and was originally scheduled to fly in April. “We considered and decided that the best launch attempt is no earlier than July 21,” Stitch said.

“We are in the process of really finalizing the certification work…it’s a huge body of work that has been going on for well over a year. There are 600 components that need to be qualified on the Starliner for NASA and Boeing to test together [and] over 70 danger reports. And then a total of what we call 370 verifications,” he added.

Both pay close attention to the Starliner’s parachute system, which is deployed to land the spacecraft safely on Earth. Ground tests will examine the parachute’s ability to launch properly and slow the Starliner to land safely for the return of astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, who will fly and spend eight days docked in the CFT at the ISS.

Joel Montalbano, manager of NASA’s International Space Station Program, said activities aboard the ISS over the next few months are packed. The Soyuz MS-23 currently docked with the space station will be moved to another module. Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts will also conduct separate spacewalks to prepare for incoming solar arrays and recover hardware.

There are also upcoming cargo deliveries as well as the Axiom 2 mission, the second private manned mission to the ISS that will send the first Saudi Arabian woman, Rayyanah Barnawi, into space. Barnawi’s crew members include Ali Alqarni, a second Saudi representative, Peggy Whitson, a NASA veteran, and John Shoffner, an investor and pilot.

It just means Boeing needs to find an airfield after these events.

“We are very close,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s CST Starliner. He said the company is working hard to inspect the spacecraft’s hardware, build the service module, overhaul the crew module and review its flight software.

“Most of the areas that needed to be completed will be completed by the end of April. In the one area Steve has been talking about, the parachute, the verification closure notice and hazard report will come out by May,” he said.

The next big milestone will be loading the propellant into the spacecraft about 40 days before its launch. ® Boeing’s manned mission on the Starliner ISS spacecraft • The Register

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