On 17th April, Boeing said that the next test flight of its CST-100 Starliner commercial aircrew motor vehicle will not take off till at least August. There is a confirmation of lengthy wait anticipation because of the plan of other International Space Station operations. In a report, Boeing said that the firm and NASA are predicting the Orbital Flight Test 2 mission which is without a crew to take place in August or September. That date is “aided by a space station landing opportunity and the accessibility of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Eastern Range.”
Boeing works for a launch of OFT-2 in late March or early in April. However, in March, NASA officials acknowledge that was no longer possible. This is because of postponements from the standby of avionics elements on the spacecraft that remain damaged by an energy surge. This is during terrain tests, as well as energy outages in the Houston area. The causes of which are a wintertime hurricane in February that interrupts software assessment.
Neither NASA nor Boeing share an update on the launch date but said the mission was not likely to launch in either April or May. That was owing to Soyuz and Crew Dragon operations to the ISS planned for launch in April. Along with the May launch of an Atlas 5 containing a military spacecraft.
A conference held on April 15 is in regard to the forthcoming Crew-2 Crew Dragon mission. Steve Stich is the commercial crew program manager at NASA. He said that one more element was the next freight Dragon mission to the space station. The same is arranged for launch in early June. That spacecraft, alongside the Crew-2 spacecraft, will dominate the only two landing ports Starliner can utilize. This means it cannot launch till after the payload Dragon leaves in mid-July. He added, “Currently, the windows that we are exploring are the August-September timeline for OFT-2.”
Stich said at the conference that NASA and Boeing will take benefit of the postponement to do further software assessment.
Software concerns are at the core of several key problems including:
- The original OFT flight in December 2019
- Slashing the mission short
- Inhibiting the spacecraft from landing with the ISS
In Spite of the wait in OFT-2, NASA and Boeing said they are yet at work in order to make the vehicle’s original crewed flight. They plan to launch the Crew Flight Test before the end of the year. Stich said at the conference that the present target for that flight is the fourth quarter.
Meaning, the crewed flight will be no further than four months after OFT-2. However, previous plans indicated a gap of about half a year among them. Boeing said, “we are in progress in order to facilitate the quickest turnaround time likely between flights. We ensure to do this while retaining its emphasis on crew safety.” They also wish to have the three NASA astronauts who will take charge of that operation. In addition, perform tests in the Starliner that will launch on OFT-2.