First Starliner to Launch Crew Ready for Environmental Testing

Boeing’s first crewed Starliner finished initial production at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. and is readied for its cross-country trip. (Credit: Boeing)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft destined to fly astronauts to the International Space Station for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is ready to undergo a series of flight-like simulations similar to the actual environments the spacecraft will experience during different stages of flight.

The spacecraft recently arrived at the company’s facilities in El Segundo, California for the series of tests. In order to ship the spacecraft, technicians painstakingly prepared and secured Starliner inside its shipping container on Nov. 12, before the spacecraft completed its 10-day, cross-country trip.

Boeing technicians carefully close Starliner’s shipping container at the company’s Florida factory ahead of its trip to El Segundo, Calif. (Credit: Boeing)

Now, Starliner will begin the test campaign wherein acoustic and vibration testing will simulate the environment during launch and ascent, thermal vacuum testing will expose Starliner to the extreme heat and cold it will experience in orbit, and electromagnetic interference/electromagnetic compatibility testing will make sure that those signals or radiation do not interfere with operations on Starliner or with sensitive equipment on station. The series of tests are expected to last about three months.

The company’s CFT is targeted for August 2019, and will be Starliner’s first flight with crew onboard. Following the CFT, Boeing will refurbish the spacecraft for regular crewed missions to the space station.

Starliner is unboxed inside Boeing’s satellite test facilities in California to prepare for environmental qualification testing. (Credit: Boeing)

During these environmental tests, Boeing also expects to complete production in its Florida factory on the Starliner to be flown in the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, targeted for March 2019.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

  • Michael Halpern

    Bout time

  • envy

    Hmm. Why are they testing it internally instead of at NASA’s Plum Brook facility?

  • Michael Halpern

    Money, specifically extracting extra taxpayer money at every step

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Because they can. SpaceX can’t.

  • Paul_Scutts

    At last, a real world yardstick for exactly how far SpaceX is in advance of Boeing re CC development.

  • envy

    Well, obviously. But that does nothing to answer my question. Is it cheaper for Boeing? Is it cheaper for NASA? Is it faster? They have to fly it out of Florida in either case. Is something else using the Plum Brook facilities?

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Those are legitimate questions but really internal ones for Boeing. NASA I’m sure is satisfied with Boeing’s testing facility and procedures otherwise it would have gone to Plum Brook. I assumed when I read the headline that it was going to Plum Brook as well. If my reply was a little snarky it was because I was reading the snarky comments of some Elon Musk acolytes so I thought I’d toss in a small dig myself.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Following the CFT, Boeing will refurbish the spacecraft for regular crewed missions to the space station. Nice.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    They both look pretty close together. Due to scheduling and need there is no way to really have a race to the finish. Who flies first may have meant something a year ago but doesn’t mean anything now that both manned and unmanned flights have to be fitted into the overall range and ISS schedule.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    Congratulations to Boeing. For NASA, 2019 promises to be a great year in fulfilling it’s vision of commercial crew transport to the ISS & other LEO destinations. All three of the crew vehicles will be at Kennedy next year with cargo Dragon & cargo Dream Chaser.