Boeing Starliner OFT-2 mission scrubbed indefinitely

A white cone shaped fixture, the starliner, is examined by people wearing orange vests in the middle of a white room.
NASA identified 80 issues for Boeing to fix on Starliner following the capsule’s 1st unmanned test flight, which failed to reach the International Space Station in December 2019. Image via Boeing/ John Proferes/ NASA.

Starliner liftoff … to be determined

Boeing’s second uncrewed flight for its CST-100 Starliner craft was scheduled to launch today (August 3, 2021), but has been postponed indefinitely, the company announced on Twitter. The delay will allow engineers the time to diagnose some unexpected issues with the rocket’s propulsion system that arose this morning. Boeing has also said it will not pursue a launch opportunity tomorrow. But this delay comes as just one in a series of delays that have plagued Starliner, which originally had a launch date of March 29 earlier this year.

The mission, called Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Among other objectives, the spacecraft will carry more than 400 pounds (200 kg) of NASA cargo and crew supplies to the space station. Live coverage of the launch will be streamed on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and its mobile app. Watch here. The spacecraft will spend about one day in orbit around Earth before docking.

OFT-2 and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

As a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is also expected to provide valuable data to the agency. Boeing hopes the uncrewed flight will certify a crew transportation system for eventual flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

The goal of its Commercial Crew Program, NASA says, is to have safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from the ISS on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil. NASA selected Boeing in September 2014. Ultimately, Boeing and its Starliner craft are working to maintain a space station crew of seven, dedicated to performing scientific research on the orbiting laboratory every day.

Boeing launched a previous Orbital Flight Test back in December 2019, but the craft failed to reach the orbiting laboratory due to a series of glitches and software issues, NASA determined.

OFT-2 will, hopefully, once and for all prove the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft, starting from launch to docking to a return to Earth at the end of its spaceflight.

Bottom line: Boeing’s Starliner launch to the International Space Station on August 3, 2021 has been canceled and scrubbed indefinitely.


July 28, 2021

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