NASA and Boeing will soon launch the CST-100 Starliner on its second attempt to reach the International Space Station (ISS). What time is the Starliner capsule scheduled to launch?
By SEBASTIAN KETTLEY
Starliner will blast off into space next week at the earliest after NASA was forced to scrub the spacecraft’s original launch date. Starliner was pencilled in to launch on Friday, July 30, but a brief period of mayhem on the International Space Station threw a spanner in the works. NASA and Boeing confirmed late on Thursday the launch will be delayed to give the space station’s crew more time to secure the recently docked Nauka module.
The Russian science module docked to the ISS on Thursday, after which it unexpectedly fired its thrusters.
The incident shifted the space station’s attitude by 45 degrees, prompting a temporary emergency.
Luckily, the ISS appears to be in good shape and none of the station’s seven astronauts have been injured.
NASA said: “Launch preparations will resume following a final decision from the International Space Station and Commercial Crew Program teams for the next opportunity to send Starliner on its way to complete the OFT-2 mission, which will set the stage for the first Crew Flight Test.”
What time will Boeing’s Starliner launch to the ISS?
Following Thursday’s mishap, NASA has rescheduled Starliner’s launch to no earlier than Tuesday, August 3.
Liftoff is presently scheduled for 6.20pm BST (1.20pm EDT).
However, this could still change depending on the weather forecast and other unforeseen technical problems.
The spacecraft will launch atop of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The rocket and spacecraft rolled out to the launch pad on Thursday for pre-flight preparations.
NASA: Boeing Starliner landing was ‘perfect’ says astronaut
Starliner was then returned to its Vehicle Integration Facility to keep it sheltered from the elements.
ULA tweeted on Friday: “For the protection of the #Starliner and #AtlasV, and to avoid inclement weather, we are rolling back to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF).”
NASA also said: “Starliner and Atlas V are in a safe, flight-ready configuration and do not require any near-term servicing.
“The Atlas V was assembled throughout July, which included the transfer of Starliner from Boeing’s spacecraft processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Launch Complex 41 for mating atop the rocket.”
Officially dubbed Orbital Flight Test-2, the mission marks Starliner’s second attempt at reaching the space station.
Boeing designed and built the Starliner alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to fulfil NASA’s Commercial Crew contract.
Both capsules will ferry astronauts to and from the space station, ending NASA’s reliance on the Soyuz programme.
However, whereas SpaceX has already launched two operational flights to the ISS, Starliner is yet to reach orbit.
Starliner’s first orbital flight test in December 2019 was cut short due to an error with the onboard clocks.
The spacecraft did not perform its orbital burn needed to rendezvous with the ISS.
Boeing spokeswoman Kelly Kaplan said at the time: “The Boeing Starliner space vehicle experienced an off-nominal insertion.
“The spacecraft currently is in a safe and stable configuration.
“Flight controllers have completed a successful initial burn and are assessing next steps.
“Boeing and NASA are working together to review options for the test and mission opportunities available while the Starliner remains in orbit.”
Should the upcoming flight go according to plan, Starliner will reach the ISS and dock for about a week before returning to Earth.
A successful flight will pave the way for a crewed test flight with astronauts Eric Boe and Sunita Williams.
Originally published at Express