This Sunday, 2019 December 22 photograph shows the Boeing Starliner space capsule following a landing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, during the first Orbital Flight Test (OFT). A scheduled docking with the International Space Station (ISS) was scrubbed due to technical difficulties. Consequently, the mission ended early.
(Image Sources: NASA, Wikipedia.org, By NASA/Bill Ingalls - https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/49258250868/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85140253)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
SpaceX has been launching NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) since 2020. Early Thursday evening, the Boeing Corporation plans to launch their uncrewed Starliner space vehicle to the ISS in the second test of an alternative method of transporting astronauts into Outer Space.
NASA's Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission of the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, on an Atlas V rocket, for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is scheduled for launch to the ISS on Thursday Evening, 2022 May 19 at 6:54 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 22:54 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
NASA-TV Live-Stream coverage on the Internet begins on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. EDT / 22:00 UTC. Assuming no problems or delays with the launch, a NASA post-launch news conference is scheduled for Thursday at 9:00 p.m. EDT / Friday at 1:00 UTC.
NASA-TV will also provide Live-Stream Internet coverage of three other scheduled events:
Friday, 2022 May 20, 3:30 p.m. EDT / 19:30 UTC - Rendezvous and docking of NASA's Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 vehicle to the International Space Station
Saturday, 2022 May 21, 11:30 a.m. EDT / 15:30 UTC - Opening of the hatch to NASA's Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 vehicle at the International Space Station (Hatch opening is scheduled at 11:45 a.m. EDT / 15:45 UTC and will continue through welcoming remarks by the crew)
Saturday, 2022 May 21, 1:00 p.m. EDT / 17:00 UTC - Welcoming remarks by the Expedition 67 crew on the arrival of NASA's Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 vehicle to the International Space Station
Internet link to NASA-TV Live-Stream coverage of these scheduled events can be found near the end of this blog-post.
The Boeing Starliner capsule has a diameter of 15.0 feet / 4.56 meters. This is slightly larger than the Apollo Command Module and the SpaceX Dragon 2 capsule; it is slightly smaller than the Orion capsule. Starliner can hold a crew of up to seven people and can stay docked to the ISS for up to seven months. The Starliner capsule is designed to be reused--for up-to ten flights. It is compatible with the Delta IV, Falcon 9, and Vulcan Centaur launch vehicles, in addition to the Atlas V which will be used for the OFT-2 launch
This uncrewed flight will carry 800 pounds of cargo to the ISS. This includes about 500 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies.
According to a NASA news release, “OFT-2 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.”
Rosie the Rocketeer, Boeing's anthropometric test device, will be in the Starliner commander’s seat during the OFT-2 mission. During the OFT-1 mission, Rosie the Rocketeer was outfitted with 15 sensors to develop information regarding what live astronauts would experience during a Starliner mission. This data capture will be enhanced during the OFT-2 mission.
Automated operation of the Starliner vehicle will be one of the primary tests of the OFT-2 mission. This includes autonomous docking with the Space Station using Starliner’s vision-based navigation system. Starliner will also demonstrate the spacecraft's ability to autonomously retreat from a docking approach, in the case of an emergency.
Once Starliner docks with the ISS, it will spend 5-to-10 days docked to the Space Station. The Starliner will, then, return to Earth, landing in the western United States, with nearly 600 pounds of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.
The OFT-2 mission will be Boeing's second orbital flight test of Starliner. The first mission, OFT-1 in December of 2019, ended prematurely due to technical problems; a scheduled docking with the ISS did not occur. A second attempt (Boe-OFT-2) in August of 2021 was never launched, due to inoperable valves in the propulsion system. The OFT-2 mission includes the first flight of the second Starliner crew module.
With the OFT-2 mission, Boeing hopes to prove to NASA that the Starliner meets the space agency's requirements for safe transportation of astronauts into Outer Space, including docking with the ISS. Upon completion of a successful OFT-2 mission, a Starliner Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the ISS with NASA astronauts could occur before the end of this year.
Internet Link to LIVE-STREAM coverage of NASA Boeing Starliner launch and events:
Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
Internet links to additional information ---
NASA News Release on Starliner Launch: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/feature/what-you-need-to-know-about-nasa-s-boeing-orbital-flight-test-2-0
Photograph of Starliner crew module being mounted on Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral:
Related Blog-Posts ---
"Starliner Test Flight May 19." Mon., 2022 May 2.
"Update: Boeing Starliner Launch Delayed Indefinitely." Sun., 2021 Aug. 1.
Thursday, 2022 May 19.
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