Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is set to launch from Florida to demonstrate its capability of ferrying crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS) as a part of Nasa’s Commercial Crew Program. It will be the Starliner’s second unmanned test flight. Boeing’s spacecraft will carry more than 400 pounds of cargo and crew supplies to the space station and return to the Earth with more than 550 pounds of cargo, according to Nasa.
The spacecraft will blast off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 1.20pm EDT (10.50pm IST) on August 3. Nasa said that the Starliner will start performing its orbital insertion burn about 30 minutes after the launch. The spacecraft is scheduled to dock at the space station at 1.37pm EDT (11.07pm IST) on Wednesday.
Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is aimed at demonstrating the end-to-end capabilities of the capsule-and-rocket combo, from launch, docking and landing in the western United States.
The launch was earlier scheduled for Friday last week but an incident throwing the space station out of control forced the mission controllers to reschedule it. An unplanned firing of jet thrusters of the Russian research module due to a “short-term software failure” knocked the ISS off its course causing a “loss of attitudinal control” that lasted for a little more than 45 minutes. Nasa assured that ground teams restored the attitudinal control and orientation of the space station by activating thrusters on another module attached to it.
The crew is now busy balancing the pressure in the Nauka module. In the afternoon, the crew will open the hatches, enter the module, turn on the necessary means of purifying the atmosphere and begin normal regular work,” Vladimir Solovyov, designer general at Energia, a Russian space agency company, had said in a statement.
The launch and docking activities for the Boeing OFT-2 will be aired live on Nasa TV and its website.