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  Boeing's CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test

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Author Topic:   Boeing's CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 41359
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-19-2018 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United Launch Alliance release
Centaur arrives at Cape Canaveral

The dual-engine Centaur upper stage that will launch Boeing's first Starliner spacecraft on its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station has arrived at Cape Canaveral for final processing by United Launch Alliance technicians.

The stage arrived Oct. 19 aboard the Mariner cargo ship, the ocean-going vessel that ULA uses to transport rocket stages from the manufacturing plant in Decatur, Alabama to the launch sites.

Wrapped in a protective covering for the transit, the Centaur was offloaded at the Port Canaveral wharf and driven on a specialized trailer to ULA's Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center for initial arrival checks.

Later, it will move to the Delta Operations Center to be raised vertically, mounted onto the interstage structure and fitted with the adapter that will support Starliner atop the rocket. That combined stack will then be ready for mating to the Atlas V first stage at the Vertical Integration Facility next year.

Mariner left Decatur on Oct. 10 for the journey of nearly 2,000 miles.

The venerable Centaur will resume flights in a dual-engine configuration — which was once commonplace — for this inaugural launch of Starliner. The last Centaur stage to utilize two engines was an Atlas IIAS rocket launch in 2004.

The Atlas V has needed only single-engine Centaurs to perform all of its launches to date to deliver payloads to their intended destinations, but the Starliner mass along with the need to shape the trajectory to limit astronaut accelerations and optimize ascent abort performance in case of a vehicle failure necessitates the thrust of two engines.

For the OFT launch, the Centaur will be powered by a pair of Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10-4-2 cryogenic engines, burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to generate nearly 45,000 pounds of thrust.

Centaur flew for the 250th time on Oct. 17 in launching the Air Force's AEHF-4 protected communications satellite. Two-thirds of those previous launches were dual-engine configurations.

The high-energy stage has launched spacecraft to every planet in our solar system, plus the moon, Pluto and solar observatories, and critical national security, communications and weather satellites.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 41359
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-20-2019 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Launch Teams Simulate Boeing Uncrewed Flight Test Countdown

In preparation for Boeing's uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing and Department of Defense personnel conducted a successful integrated crew exercise on Feb. 12.

Boeing's Orbital Flight Test (OFT) of Starliner will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The joint team executed a mock countdown that practiced fueling the Atlas V and operating the unique launch day timeline that features a four-hour built-in hold to allow launch teams to work any technical issues that arise in the countdown. The hold is lifted four minutes prior to launch.

The team was presented with simulated issues with hardware and downrange assets to exercise troubleshooting, problem resolution procedures and the coordination that goes into adjusting the countdown as necessary. There were even simulated challenges from the weather, forcing officials to react to changing weather conditions at the pad. The exercise culminated with a successful liftoff and climb into space.

Formal rehearsals like this one allow launch teams in geographic locations across the country to function as one well-coordinated team.

OFT will be the uncrewed test of Starliner as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, during which Starliner will fly to the International Space Station for an automated rendezvous and docking, complete a short stay and then return to Earth; the mission is the precursor to Boeing's flight test with crew.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 41359
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-03-2019 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Orbital Flight Test Progress

Boeing is now targeting August for its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, although this date is a working date and to be confirmed.

The decision to adjust that launch date was guided by limited launch opportunities in April and May, as well as a critical U.S. Air Force national security launch – AEHF-5 – atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 in June.

"The uncrewed flight tests provide a wealth of data for us to analyze every phase of flight," said Steve Stich, NASA's Commercial Crew Program deputy manager. "They offer a phenomenal opportunity for us to evaluate the end-to-end performance of the systems, and really set us up for flight tests with crew. Our Boeing and NASA teams are making tremendous progress without compromising safety as we prepare for launch."

While the Starliner spacecraft for the Orbital Flight Test is close to complete, the additional time will allow teams to thoroughly focus on the test and validation activities well ahead of launch.

"We remain diligent, with a safety-first culture," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "While we have already made substantial progress this year, this shift gives us the time to continue building a safe, quality spacecraft capable of carrying crews over and over again after a successful uncrewed test, without adding unnecessary schedule pressure."

Above: A look at the Starliner that will soon fly the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test soon after the dome mate activities at the Boeing Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. (Boeing)

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft for the uncrewed flight test is nearly complete. This spacecraft is designed to be reusable up to 10 times, and will be used for the company's first full operational mission after certification. The Starliner team is working to complete all of the critical testing and integration on the spacecraft to ensure the shortest possible time between the completion of the uncrewed flight and the first launch of crew, and then to operational missions to station.

On March 11, Boeing mated the upper and lower domes of the same spacecraft inside its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two domes underwent outfitting with avionics, cooling systems, wire harnesses, fuel and life support lines, and other critical systems before being mated together. This is one of the last major milestones ahead of final processing and closeouts for flight.

NASA and Boeing teams also completed two parachute tests. In February, a "lawn dart" dropped out of a C-17 aircraft over the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, and the parachutes performed as planned. These reliability tests are part of a special studies program NASA initiated to validate the robust design of Starliner's parachute systems. Then in March at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Boeing completed the fourth of five parachute qualification tests. Successful completion of all five tests will qualify the entire Starliner landing system for flight with crew.

Another key milestone for the capsule included successful range of motion testing on the docking adapter – known as the NASA Docking System, or NDS – that will connect Starliner to the space station's Harmony module later this year.

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