Boeing and NASA officials said Wednesday that the first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner space capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) will take place in July.
Officials said the CST-100 Starliner mission, previously scheduled for April, will take place no later than July 21.
“We’ve discussed and decided that the best launch attempt would be no earlier than July 21st for the CFT,” Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, told reporters.
“We feel very confident on that date,” added Mark Nappi, Boeing’s Starliner program manager.
More time is needed to certify the parachute system designed to return astronauts and spacecraft safely to Earth, Stitch said, and a ground test of the parachutes will take place in May.
Starliner will transport two NASA astronauts, Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams, to the International Space Station, where they are expected to stay for at least eight days.
The spacecraft is scheduled to blast off into space on an Atlas V rocket built by the United Launch Alliance from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
If the mission is successful, the Boeing capsule will finally be certified and operational flights will begin, at a date yet to be determined.
Boeing had hoped to make the first crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner in 2022 but has encountered a number of delays.
In May 2022, the company finally succeeded in reaching the International Space Station for the first time – without a crew on board.
NASA awarded fixed-price contracts worth $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX in 2014, shortly after the space shuttle program ended, at a time when the United States was relying on Russian Soyuz rockets for rides to the International Space Station.
NASA is looking to adopt the Starliner as a second “taxi” service for its astronauts to the space station — a role Elon Musk has provided SpaceX since successfully completing a test mission of its Dragon capsule in 2020.
© 2023 AFP
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