KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA and Boeing provided new details Thursday afternoon on what will be the first crewed Starliner flight to the International Space Station.
Teams are now targeting February of next year for launch, and it has taken them years just to get to this point.
Boeing tried but failed to reach the ISS during its first un-crewed test flight back in 2019.
Then, the Starliner successfully launched on an Atlas V rocket from Florida’s Space Coast in May without any astronauts onboard.
NASA is reviewing data from that test flight to determine when the Starliner will be ready for its first crewed mission.
“The test flight went very well a few months ago,” Ken Kremer of Space UpClose said. “But they have to find a space when they can launch this, because it’s very busy at ISS.”
Once Starliner is online, NASA will have two ways to launch astronauts to the ISS from U.S. soil. They’re just days away from launching Artemis 1, an un-crewed flight test around the moon.
Once the Boeing un-crewed flight test launches, NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore will spend eight days docked at the station.
Starliner’s crewed launch should happen later this year from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. SpaceX will launch its fifth operational mission to the space station in October.
“That’ll give us a second way to get astronauts to the station,” Kremer said. “That’s critical because it’ll give us redundancy.”
Meanwhile, Boeing officials say they’re still completing the final report on the May flight test.
“As a matter of fact, we turn it in tomorrow,” Boeing Vice President and Starliner Program Manager Mark Nappi said. “Based on our analysis, we’re even more pleased with how the flight performed, and we’re looking forward to flying crew on CFT next. "
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