The rocket that will send the next Commercial Crew Program spacecraft to the International Space Station will soon be ready for its next test mission.
What You Need To Know
ULA, Boeing and NASA are preparing to launch the Starliner capsule using an Atlas V on Friday
The flight is the second uncrewed test attempt after a “a high visibility close call” in December 2019
The OFT-2 launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station is set for Friday, July 30 at 2:53 p.m. ET for now
RELATED: Boeing schedules launch date for second Starliner test flight
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V, with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on top, was scheduled to make its way to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 on Wednesday morning, but the rollout was delayed until 8 a.m. Thursday.
No reason for the delay was immediately provided.
The Starliner is next in line to become the second human-rated commercial vehicle supported by NASA that will be able to take humans to and from the ISS. Its launch is scheduled for 2:53 p.m. ET Friday.
Boeing and NASA are conducting a second orbital flight test for the Starliner capsule after the first test, OFT-1, in December 2019 went horribly awry.
In March 2020, NASA designated the “anomalies” experienced during that mission as “a high visibility close call,” because the capsule will eventually carry astronauts aboard.
NASA gave the designation because “the potential for a significant mishap could have occurred and should be investigated to understand the risk exposure and the root cause(s) that placed equipment or individuals at risk.”
“Major reviews” were completed by July 2020 through which, the review team identified 80 recommendations for Boeing and NASA, which break down as follows:
- Testing and Simulation – “21 recommendations including the need for greater hardware and software integration testing; performance of an end-to-end ‘run for record’ test prior to each flight using the maximum amount of flight hardware available; reviewing subsystem behaviors and limitations; and addressing any identified simulation or emulation gaps.”
- Requirements – “10 recommendations including an assessment of all software requirements with multiple logic conditions to ensure test coverage.”
- Process and Operational Improvements – 35 recommendations including modifications to change board documentation; bolstering required participants in peer reviews and test data reviews; and increasing the involvement of subject matter experts in safety critical areas.
- Software – “7 recommendations including updating the software code and associated artifacts to correct the Mission Elapsed Timer Epoch and Service Module disposal anomalies; and making the antenna selection algorithm more robust.”
- Knowledge Capture and Hardware Modification –“ 7 recommendations such as organizational changes to the safety reporting structure; amending the Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) approach; and the addition of an external Radio Frequency (RF) filter to reject out-of-band interference.”
Steve Stich, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said during the OFT-2 Flight Readiness Review news conference last week that this Atlas V rocket will launch with the same flight configuration as OFT-1.
He added that if the launch isn’t able to take place on Friday, July 30, the next opportunity would be Tuesday, August 3, followed by Wednesday, August 4. Saturday is ruled out for now because he said there was a “range conflict” on July 31. Gary Wentz, the vice president of government and commercial programs for ULA said during the Prelaunch News Conference that the conflict was a “classified operation” and declined to elaborate further.
“We’re continuing to be ready in case that operation doesn’t go through and we could launch earlier, but unless it moves, we’ll just stick with the launch on Friday and follow-up on the third and fourth,” Wentz said Tuesday.
Spectrum News will have live launch coverage of the OFT-2 mission on Friday and will provide updates on any changes.