Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft have successfully rolled out to its Florida liftoff pad before Wednesday, setting the phase for an important test flight for NASA this week.
The Starliner spacecraft, seated atop an Atlas V rocket created by the United Launch Alliance, rolled out to its pad at Space Launch Complex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station before a calculated launch to the International Space Station. The launch is set for Thursday, May 19, at 6:54 p.m. EDT (2254 GMT).
Boeing’s Starliner is initiating the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test 2 mission (OFT-2) to indicate that the space taxi is ready to start flying NASA astronauts to and from the space station. The mission is significant and one Boeing has tried to pass twice since.
In December 2019, Boeing undertook its first Starliner test flight, named OFT-1. Still, it failed to attain the International Space Station due to software issues that prevented the capsule from attaining a reasonable orbit. By July 2021, Boeing was willing to try again, but stuck valves on the spacecraft’s service module precluded the launch.
If everything goes well, Boeing’s OFT-2 Starliner spacecraft will fly on Thursday night and reach the International Space Station on Friday evening (May 20) for an approximately five-day stay at the orbiting lab. On Saturday, astronauts are anticipated to open the hatches to the capsule a day later.
Starliner will return to Earth at the mission’s verge for a schemed landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico like its ancestor OFT-1. Starliner utilizes parachutes, airbags, and retrorockets to ease its landing on the land.