Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

NASA and Boeing Targeting August/September for Starliner’s Uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 20, 2021
Filed under , , , , , , , ,
Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)


NASA and Boeing are targeting August/September for the launch of Starliner’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station and will evaluate options if an earlier launch opportunity becomes available. The current schedule is supported by a space station docking opportunity and the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Eastern Range.

Boeing will be mission-ready in May should another launch opportunity arise. The Starliner team has completed all work on the OFT-2 vehicle except for activity to be conducted closer to launch, such as loading cargo and fueling the spacecraft. The team also has submitted all verification and validation paperwork to NASA and is completing all Independent Review Team recommended actions including those that were not mandatory ahead of OFT-2.

Software and Mission Operations teammates in Houston have been hard at work conducting flight software simulations, including end-to-end confidence and integration testing that will serve as a mission dress rehearsal before every future Starliner flight. Boeing expects to conclude all software testing in April and will support the agency’s post-test reviews as needed.

The Starliner team is now preparing for the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to enable the shortest turnaround time possible between flights while maintaining its focus on crew safety. NASA’s CFT astronauts recently suited up and climbed aboard Starliner to perform a fully integrated and powered checkout of the OFT-2 vehicle supported by life support and communications systems. The OFT-2 spacecraft and all systems are nearly identical to those that will fly during Starliner’s first crewed mission, which will be the second flight of that spacecraft.

Safely and sustainably transporting crew and cargo to and from low Earth orbit destinations for NASA and other future customers is the ultimate goal. Boeing is confident in the Starliner vehicle, the team and the missions ahead as the program nears the completion of its development phase.

11 responses to “NASA and Boeing Targeting August/September for Starliner’s Uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch”

  1. GaryChurch says:

    “Safely and sustainably transporting crew and cargo to and from low Earth orbit destinations for NASA and other future customers is the ultimate goal.”

    The “ultimate goal” is, of course, shareholder checks. Both spacex and Boeing are trying to go cheap to get there. There is no cheap.

    Both the Starliner and toxic dragon are unsafe designs due to their hypergolic abort systems, though Starliner has a slight edge in that at least that system can be jettisoned. These LEO taxis were always a waste of time…just like the space station to nowhere.

    LEO is a dead end. Fifty years of LEO platforms (they are not really space stations) is enough.

    A true space station would feature a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity environment (NSLR1G) provided by a double-hulled compartment (with the outer envelope filled with a cosmic ray water shield) and Tether Generated Artificial Gravity (TGAG) system.

    The mass of water required to shield even a small crew while providing minimal working space would be well over a thousand tons. The prerequisites are a Super Heavy Lift Vehicle (SHLV) able to loft a large diameter wet workshop (“Fat Workshop”) and water brought up from the lunar poles using 23 times less energy than bringing it up from Earth.

    These workshops, likely around 60 feet in diameter, would be the basic crew compartment for space stations in GEO, NRHO, Lunar Cyclers, and nuclear propelled spaceships. Once a construction pipeline is in operation fleets of such constructs would be assured. The missing piece is a semi-expendable robot lander able to process lunar polar ice and ferry the derived water and propellants to a frozen Low Lunar Orbit (LLO). This lander would also double as a modular booster able to transit the filled workshops back across the cislunar sea to GEO or other orbits.

    NewSpace delenda est

  2. therealdmt says:

    Let’s just do it. If it’s ready to go, delay a cargo flight a few weeks (we know they can delay cargo flights because they have before). We need a backup that doesn’t depend on Russia

    • duheagle says:

      Delaying cargo missions won’t help. The only one of those that uses the docking ports is the SpaceX Cargo Dragon 2. The rest use the berthing ports. The real hold-ups seem to be that ULA has a high-priority military mission coming up that can’t be bumped for a do-over test of a vehicle that isn’t absolutely essential and that it takes ULA about a month to turn SLC-41 around.

  3. ThomasLMatula says:

    It seems to be a race between Artemis I and Starliner in terms of which will have the most delays before flying next. Hopefully both have worked out the software bugs.

Leave a Reply