Boeing's Starliner set to launch first crewed flight into space Saturday


Boeing’s Starliner program is set to launch its first crewed mission into space this upcoming weekend after previous technical problems delayed the takeoff. 

Both NASA and Boeing approved the key test flight, which will take place on Saturday, 12:25 p.m. local time, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. The first test flight, which will carry two NASA astronauts, is intended to reach the International Space Station (ISS). 

The spacecraft, carrying astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita Williams, will ride on the top of Atlas V, a rocket constructed by United Launch Alliance (ULA). A successful flight into orbit would show the program can get astronauts to the ISS and back home. Boeing would be authorized by NASA to host regular trips. 

The program has encountered problems and had to postpone flights this month. 

The flight was scheduled to take off on May 6. It got scrubbed because of a valve problem, a technical issue that further delayed the historic takeoff. Another attempt, scheduled for May 17, was delayed because of a propellant leak and the need for more testing.

Boeing said Wednesday that backup launch opportunities are available for Sunday, with some others on June 5 and 6. 

Mission controllers said last week that the valve was replaced, but the helium leak would not be addressed before the scheduled take-off. 

“We can handle this particular leak if that leak rate were to grow even up to 100 times,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). 

Both Wilmore and Williams previously quarantined in Houston while technical issues were being worked on. They got back to the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday and will be in quarantine at the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building until the launch on Saturday, according to Boeing. 

If the flight goes as planned, the crew will spend a week at ISS before coming back to Earth. 

Boeing has developed the Starliner program for over a decade, hoping to give NASA another option to send astronauts to the ISS. With a completed mission, Boeing will look to compete more with SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, which has been carrying astronauts to the ISS since 2020. 

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top