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Author Topic:   Boeing's Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2
Robert Pearlman
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Boeing to refly Starliner uncrewed test after curtailed first spaceflight

Boeing will fly a second uncrewed flight test of its new Starliner spacecraft after its first mission failed to reach the International Space Station late last year.

The aerospace company announced the re-flight on Monday (April 6), four months after its first CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test (OFT) was cut short by software problems.

"We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system," The Boeing Company stated in a release. "Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer. We will then proceed to the tremendous responsibility and privilege of flying astronauts to the International Space Station."

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NASA release
Boeing's Starliner makes progress toward second Orbital Flight Test

NASA and Boeing continue to make progress toward the company's second uncrewed flight test of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prior to flying astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The Commercial Crew Program currently is targeting no earlier than December 2020 for launch of the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) pending hardware readiness, flight software qualification, and launch vehicle and space station manifest priorities.

Starliner Progress

Teams from Boeing are well into final assembly of the crew and service modules that will fly OFT-2 to the space station inside of the company's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. OFT-2 will fly a new, reusable Starliner crew module providing additional on-orbit experience for the operational teams prior to flying missions with astronauts. For Boeing's Commercial Crew missions, the Starliner spacecraft will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

With the majority of assembly complete, recent progress is focused on the NASA docking system re-entry cover, which was added to the design for additional protection of the system. The team also has completed the installation of the Starliner propellant heater, thermal protection system tiles and the air bags that will be used when the spacecraft touches down for landing. As final production activities continue to progress, the crew module recently entered acceptance testing, which will prove out the systems on the spacecraft before it's mated with its service module.

In Houston, the software team is nearing the final stages of modifying and re-verifying the flight code after the first uncrewed flight test. As part of that effort, the team recently began a major milestone called Formal Qualification Testing, which is a comprehensive test of flight software and an important step in preparing for an end-to-end mission rehearsal test.

Boeing also remains focused on incorporating the recommendations from the joint NASA-Boeing Independent Review Team with almost 75% of the 80 proposed actions implemented. The independent team was formed to review anomalies experienced during OFT, which led to Starliner not reaching its planned orbit or docking to station as planned, and to provide recommendations to ensure a robust design for future missions. In addition to opting to re-fly its uncrewed flight test, Boeing elected to comprehensively implement all of the recommendations provided by the review team.

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Boeing video release
Starliner engineers and technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center installed the base heat shield to the Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft. The base heat shield protects the reusable Starliner and future crew members from atmospheric re-entry temperatures as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Boeing release
NASA and Boeing Target New Launch Date for Next Starliner Flight Test

NASA and Boeing are targeting March 29, 2021 for the launch of Starliner's second uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company's path toward flying crew missions for NASA.

Above: Boeing technicians install the backshells on the Orbital Flight Test 2 Crew Module.

During OFT-2, the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, dock to the International Space Station and return to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test to prove the system is ready to fly crew.

The OFT-2 Starliner spacecraft is nearing final assembly inside the company's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicle's reusable crew module has been powered up and final checkouts of the avionics, power and propulsion systems are nearing completion. The spacecraft's parachutes, landing airbags, base heat shield, and its back shells are installed signifying the completion of the vehicle build phase. In the coming weeks, teams will load the crew module with cargo, including Rosie the Rocketeer, and weigh the vehicle before mating it to its service module, which is already complete.

In parallel, Boeing technicians continue to refurbish the crew module flown on Starliner's first Orbital Flight Test while also building a brand-new service module for NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), which is targeted for launch in summer 2021, following a successful OFT-2 mission.

NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Nicole Mann continue to train for CFT, the inaugural crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft. After the completion of both test flights, NASA astronauts Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada and Jeanette Epps will launch on the Starliner-1 mission, the first of six crew rotation missions NASA and Boeing will fly as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program.

Formal qualification of Starliner's flight software also is underway inside Boeing's Avionics and Software Integration Lab in Houston. Teams are running both static and dynamic testing of the vehicle's software to ensure it's coded as designed and incorporates all mission requirements. Test teams then will perform an entire end-to-end mission scenario, from prelaunch to docking and undocking to landing, using a high-fidelity suite of hardware before flying the OFT-2 mission.

Above: The Orbital Flight Test-2 Service Module is complete.

"NASA and Boeing are doing a tremendous amount of work on all aspects of their flight software running numerous cases through the Boeing high fidelity simulation environment that includes the Starliner avionics," said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Boeing has worked hand-in-hand with NASA to address all of the lessons learned from Starliner's first flight. The company is more than 90% complete in closing out all the recommended actions developed by a joint NASA and Boeing Independent Review Team, even those that were not mandatory, ahead of Starliner's second uncrewed flight test.

United Launch Alliance also is making progress with the OFT-2 Atlas V hardware at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and ready for processing for the upcoming OFT-2 launch. The Centaur upper stage for CFT is complete, and all hardware for the CFT mission is on track for an early 2021 delivery to the launch site. The hardware to support Starliner-1 is in progress.

"The progress we're making ahead of Starliner's next flight is laying the groundwork for safe and reliable transportation services for NASA and a variety of customers for many years to come," said John Vollmer, Starliner's vice president and program manager at Boeing. "With each vehicle closeout, line of code tested, and document delivered, we're on a path to proving we have a robust, fully operational vehicle. It's truly a team with effort with NASA and our industry partners."

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Boeing release
Covered to Expand Human Spaceflight

Starliner's new NASA Docking System cover is designed to protect the components that connect the spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Teams in the Starliner assembly facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently installed and tested a new NASA Docking System (NDS) cover on the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft that will fly the Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission in March. The NDS, designed and built by Boeing, is a standardized mechanism that allows two spacecraft to connect safely with each other autonomously to create a short tunnel so crews can move between the two vehicles.

Above: A technician observes the functional test of the NASA Docking System (NDS) cover in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

The new cover will provide additional protection for the automated docking system during atmospheric re-entry, where the capsule faces temperatures of about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit prior to landing at one of five potential locations in the western United States.

"The NDS was originally designed for one-time use, however, adding the entry cover to protect its components during re-entry is expected to extend the system's life for multiple missions," said Vajid Vayda, a Boeing system test engineer.

Above: Technicians work on the NASA Docking System (NDS) cover hatch installation in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

Vayda previously supported integrated functional testing on the International Space Station (ISS) program for 17 shuttle missions, and is now responsible for generating the Detail Operating Procedure (DOP) to perform the integrated functional testing of the NDS cover on the spacecraft. During the ground operations, a tool balancer connected to a facility crane was used to off-load the weight of the cover in order to facilitate the open and close cycles of the NDS.

"It was very exciting to see the movement of the NDS hardware as I commanded them and completed the function," said Vayda. "The NDS team will be watching the data coming from the NDS hardware closely after we get to orbit and as we approach the ISS on our next flight."

The NDS cover is located under the crew module's semispherical Ascent Cover during launch, and is only visible during orbital operations after the Ascent Cover jettisons. It acts as a hatch on the top of the vehicle that will open for docking with the Boeing-built International Docking Adapters on the ISS and close after undocking. The NDS cover was installed on the OFT-2 vehicle in December.

Above: Technicians work on the NASA Docking System (NDS) hatch installation in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

"The NDS cover and docking system will be inspected and checked out for each and every flight," said Vayda. "I expect the NDS to last for a long time, providing a bridge for the Starliner to connect with the ISS for many missions to come."

The Starliner crew module is reusable for multiple missions. It is one of two spacecraft built for NASA's Commercial Crew Program to carry crews and cargo to low Earth orbit and the ISS — expanding utility, and providing additional research time and broader opportunities for discovery on the orbiting laboratory.

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Boeing release
Boeing Completes Software Qualification for Second Starliner Test Flight

Boeing recently completed its formal requalification of the CST-100 Starliner's flight software in preparation for its next flight. The autonomous spacecraft will fly to the International Space Station during a second uncrewed flight test, Orbital Flight Test-2, in March, ahead of a first crewed flight with NASA astronauts later this year.

Above: The reusable Starliner crew module slated to fly Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 prepares for Weight and Center of Gravity testing inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Teams in Houston and across the country conducted a full review of Starliner's flight software and the process by which mission modifications or upgrades will be formally qualified in the future.

"The work this team put into exhaustively wringing out our software is a defining moment for the program," said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager. "We're smarter as a team having been through this process, and most importantly, we're smarter as a human spaceflight community."

The team began by evaluating Starliner's software requirements and the testing associated with its verification. Reviews were conducted to ensure Starliner's Houston-based Avionics and Software Integration Lab, or ASIL, was sufficiently outfitted and configured to support all testing. Additional assessments were made to verify the complete integration of software with all recommended flight hardware. Software engineers also validated all the simulators and emulators to ensure they were accurate models.

The team then conducted a series of tests to confirm Starliner's updated software met design specifications. They also conducted static and dynamic tests inside the software integration lab, including hundreds of cases ranging from single command verifications to comprehensive end-to-end mission scenarios with the core software.

When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the team's progress, the program swiftly transitioned to virtual work, and enlisted support from across the company.

"Throughout all the turmoil 2020 handed us, this team remained energetic and inspired to be successful," said Aaron Kraftcheck, Starliner's software test and verification manager. "They want to do their very best for their country and their fellow citizens by helping to restore the pride NASA has in flying humans safely in space."

Above: A fully assembled Starliner crew module is prepared for flight inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

Hardware and software integrated test events are planned with the spacecraft's launch vehicle provider, United Launch Alliance, to further strengthen that portion of the qualification test regimen, and with NASA's International Space Station program to verify Starliner's code is robust and error-free throughout joint docking and undocking operations.

Boeing will then run through an end-to-end simulation of the OFT-2 test flight in the company's ASIL using flight hardware and the final versions of Starliner's flight software to accurately model the spacecraft's expected behavior. The simulation will be conducted over several days and includes complete pre-launch to docking and undocking to landing events.

"As we continue carrying out these critical milestones and reviews, we remain true to our values of safety, quality and integrity," Vollmer said. "Completing OFT-2 brings us one step closer to our end goal of transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station this year."

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Boeing release
NASA and Boeing target new launch date for next Starliner flight test

NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the launch of Starliner's second uncrewed flight test as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. Boeing's Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company's path to fly crew missions for NASA. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner is designed, built, tested and flown by a team committed to safely, reliably and sustainably transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The target launch date is enabled by an opening on the Eastern Range; the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket; steady progress on hardware and software; and an International Space Station docking opportunity.

The company recently mated the spacecraft's reusable crew module atop its brand-new service module inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Teams are working to complete outfitting of the vehicle's interior before loading cargo and conducting final spacecraft checkouts.

Boeing also recently completed the formal requalification of Starliner's OFT-2 flight software. Teams conducted a full software review and several series of tests to verify Starliner's software meets design specifications. Boeing also will complete an end-to-end simulation of the OFT-2 test flight using flight hardware and final versions of Starliner's flight software to model the vehicle's expected behavior before flight.

The OFT-2 mission will launch Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, dock to the space station and return to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test flight to prove the system is ready to fly crew.

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Boeing release
Boeing Starliner Progress to Launch

Boeing continues to support NASA as it reviews flight readiness products and we prepare the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission to and from the International Space Station.

"We appreciate the significant work NASA is undertaking ahead of launch," said John Vollmer, Starliner's vice president and program manager at Boeing. "We're fully engaged in the agency's review process to ensure confidence in the spacecraft."

With formal software tests completed, Boeing is continuing with flight preparations. We are ready to conduct a mission rehearsal, using flight hardware and final flight software, to ensure the readiness of the team and combined systems.

Hardware processing is also concluding. We recently moved the spacecraft into the Hazardous Processing Area in anticipation of propellant load. We continue to address final observations and have successfully replaced avionics units affected by a power surge during final checkouts. We continue to ensure product safety of our spacecraft and we are addressing any emerging issues in a timely manner.

NASA and Boeing teams in Houston are now contending with widespread power outages and other winter storm-related impacts in the region. Despite this, the team remains focused on the safety and quality of the spacecraft and a successful launch no earlier than April 2.

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NASA release
NASA and Boeing Evaluating Launch Date for Orbital Flight Test-2

NASA and Boeing are evaluating a new target launch date for the CST-100 Starliner's Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station after winter storms in Houston, and the recent replacement of avionics boxes, set the program back about two weeks. NASA also is weighing the volume of verification and validation analysis required prior to the test flight and the visiting vehicle schedule at the International Space Station.

Previously, the launch was targeted for no earlier than April 2.

An important factor the teams are evaluating is the visiting vehicle schedule at the International Space Station, which already has a scheduled crewed Soyuz launch and NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April. Based on the current traffic at the space station, NASA does not anticipate that OFT-2 can be accomplished later in April. NASA and Boeing are working to find the earliest possible launch date.

"Boeing and NASA have worked extremely hard to support an early-April launch but we need to assess alternatives to ensure NASA's safety work can be accomplished. NASA and Boeing know we fly together," said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "Boeing has done an incredible amount of work on Starliner to be ready for flight and we'll provide an update soon on when we expect to launch the OFT-2 mission."

"I'm grateful for the extraordinary work being undertaken by our NASA partners as we progress towards our OFT-2 mission," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager of Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "And I'm very proud of the Boeing Starliner team for working so diligently to get the hardware, software and certification closure products ready for flight. We're committed to demonstrating the safety and quality of our spacecraft and progressing to our crewed test flight and the missions beyond."

The company has been conducting dry-runs ahead of an end-to-end mission rehearsal that will allow the operations team to practice and observe integrated interactions through the whole mission profile, from launch to docking and undocking to landing. Additionally, power-on testing and checkouts of the OFT-2 vehicle, with new avionics boxes installed, have been completed successfully. Spacecraft fueling operations and the stacking of the launch vehicle are also ready to commence.

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

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.

Above: The completed Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft is seen inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as preparations for the vehicle's upcoming mission continue.

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.

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Boeing release
Boeing completes end-to-end rehearsal of second Starliner flight

Team flies simulated Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station

Boeing and NASA recently completed an integrated mission dress rehearsal of Starliner's uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The campaign conducted largely inside Boeing's Houston-based Avionics and Software Integration Lab (ASIL) culminated in a five-day end-to-end mission simulation known as the ASIL Mission Rehearsal, or AMR.

Above: NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Mike Fincke, who will fly aboard Starliner's Crew Flight Test mission, monitor the launch portion of Boeing's simulated Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

Mission operations teams inside flight control rooms at Johnson Space Center commanded the simulation using actual flight procedures. The run for record began 26 hours before launch and continued through docking, ISS quiescent operations, 32 hours of power up procedures ahead of undocking, then landing and power down.

"This rehearsal was extremely valuable," said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager. "It provided another opportunity to run the software end to end with the highest-fidelity hardware and mission controllers in the loop to simulate as close to an actual flight as possible."

NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Mike Fincke monitored every dynamic event from inside the lab using crew displays connected to the simulator. Wilmore and Fincke will fly aboard Starliner's Crew Flight Test along with NASA astronaut Nicole Mann. Launch control teams at Boeing's Mission Control Center in Florida participated in the rehearsal along with United Launch Alliance (ULA) which supported onsite in Houston after testing Starliner's hardware inside its own Denver-based integration lab earlier this year.

"We essentially flew our next mission on the ground and that takes a lot of work," said AMR test conductor Evan Platt. "We spent months upgrading our lab, working closely with our partners from ULA and NASA to make sure we had the right hardware and software configurations, and then successfully ran the simulation for 110 consecutive hours."

Gearing up for the program's first AMR took several months of preparation configuring hardware and software, routing communications channels, mapping simulated sensor data, verifying flight procedures, and completing weeks of dry runs. When winter storms in Houston caused power outages and network connectivity issues late in the campaign timeline, the team worked through the disruptions.

"I can feel that on the NASA/Boeing team, there is a deep passion for spaceflight and doing what it takes to have a successful mission," said NASA astronaut Mike Fincke. "I am glad to be on this team."

Boeing will conduct an AMR before every future flight serving as an additional confidence and integration test recommended by the NASA/Boeing Joint Independent Review Team as a result of Starliner's first test flight. With the conclusion of AMR, all the review team's recommended actions relating to Starliner software are complete and pending closure by NASA. Boeing and NASA will continue supporting post-test reviews and updating the software to include lessons learned from the AMR campaign.

"Software is constantly evolving," Platt said. "We'll likely make changes to the software and flight procedures after every AMR, just like we will after every actual mission to keep building upon the system's capabilities and implement even better ways of operating."

NASA and Boeing are targeting 2:53 pm EDT Friday, July 30, for the launch of Starliner's next test flight, OFT-2.

"We're feeling very confident in the software with the success of end-to-end testing," Vollmer said. "This campaign is about more than just our next mission. We're working to ensure the safety and success of all future Starliner flights for NASA and every commercial customer to come."

Above: Starliner vice president and program manager, John Vollmer, watches the docking portion of Boeing's simulated Orbital Flight Test-2 mission with other senior leaders and software integrators inside the company's Avionics and Software Integration Lab in Houston, Texas.

Above: Starliner flight directors Bob Dempsey and Edward Van Cise operate a simulated Orbital Flight Test-2 rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station from inside the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Above: Test conductor, Evan Platt, coordinates with mission management teams during a simulated end-to-end rehearsal of Starliner's upcoming flight.

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Boeing release
Boeing and NASA Update Launch Target for Next Starliner Test Flight

Boeing and NASA recently completed an integrated mission dress rehearsal of Starliner's uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The campaign conducted largely inside Boeing's Houston-based Avionics and Software Integration Lab (ASIL) culminated in a five-day end-to-end mission simulation known as the ASIL Mission Rehearsal, or AMR.

Boeing and NASA are targeting 2:53 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, July 30, for the launch of Starliner's uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2, or OFT-2, mission to the International Space Station pending range approval. The updated launch target is supported by the space station visiting vehicle schedule and availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Boeing will continue preparing the Crew Flight Test vehicle for flight until launch activities involving the OFT-2 vehicle, such as loading cargo and fueling the spacecraft, are scheduled to begin. Boeing recently completed end-to-end testing of Starliner's flight software by flying a five-day simulated OFT-2 mission with operations teams and the highest-fidelity hardware. Boeing will continue supporting NASA's post-test reviews and has submitted all OFT-2 verification and validation paperwork. All actions recommended by the Boeing/NASA Joint Independent Review Team as a result of Starliner's first test flight are complete and pending closure.

Boeing is committed to safely and sustainably transporting crew and cargo to and from low Earth orbit destinations. Boeing is flying the OFT-2 mission at no cost to NASA or the taxpayer to demonstrate confidence in the Starliner vehicle and showcase the integrated team's operational excellence ahead of crewed flight.

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United Launch Alliance update (via Twitter):
The Centaur second stage is in the Delta Operations Center (DOC) ready for processing for our next Atlas V launch, Boeing's Starliner OFT-2 mission to the space station, scheduled for July 30.

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NASA release
NASA and Boeing Progress Toward July Launch of Second Starliner Flight Test

NASA and Boeing are continuing preparations ahead of Starliner's second uncrewed flight to prove the system can safely carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Above: Technicians prepare Boeing's CST-100 Starliner for the company's Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2, 2021. Part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company's path to fly crew missions for NASA. (Boeing)

Teams inside the Starliner production factory at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently began fueling the Starliner crew module and service module in preparation for launch of Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) at 2:53 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 30. The fueling operations are expected to complete this week as teams load propellant inside the facility's Hazardous Processing Area and perform final spacecraft checks.

Once fueling operations are complete, teams from Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) will prepare to transport Starliner to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for mating with ULA's Atlas V rocket. Beginning this week, ULA will begin stacking, or assembling, the Atlas V rocket at the VIF during an operation called Launch Vehicle on Stand (or LVOS).

In preparation for Starliner's next flight, NASA and Boeing have closed all actions recommended by the joint NASA-Boeing Independent Review Team, which was formed as a result of Starliner's first test flight in December 2019. The review team's recommendations included items relating to integrated testing and simulations, processes and operational improvements, software requirements, crew module communication system improvements, and organizational changes. Boeing has implemented all recommendations, even those that were not mandatory, ahead of Starliner's upcoming flight.

"I am extremely proud of the NASA and Boeing Starliner teams as they methodically work toward the OFT-2 mission next month with final checks of the crew module and service module hardware and software as we prepare for this important uncrewed test mission," said Steve Stich, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager. "Closing all of the Independent Review Team findings for the software and communications systems is a huge milestone for the Commercial Crew Program and included many long hours of testing and reviews by our dedicated Boeing and NASA teams during this Covid-19 pandemic."

Above: The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to be flown on Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is seen in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2. (Boeing)

In the weeks ahead, mission control teams in Florida and Texas will continue conducting simulated mission dress rehearsals for the uncrewed OFT-2 and follow-on crewed missions. Starliner's landing and recovery teams also will perform an on-site checkout of one of the vehicle's landing zones.

During the OFT-2 mission, Starliner will test its unique vision-based navigation system to autonomously dock with the space station and deliver approximately 440 pounds, or roughly 200 kilograms, of cargo and crew supplies for NASA. Starliner is expected to spend five to 10 days in orbit before undocking and returning to Earth, touching down on land in the western United States.

Providing Starliner's second uncrewed mission meets all necessary objectives, NASA and Boeing will look for opportunities toward the end of this year to fly Starliner's first crewed mission, the Crew Flight Test (CFT), to the space station with NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore, Nicole Mann, and Mike Fincke on board.

Boeing currently is refurbishing the first Orbital Flight Test crew module for crewed flight along with outfitting a brand new service module. The CFT Atlas V hardware is expected to arrive in Florida for processing next week as teams prepare for both missions in parallel.

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Boeing release
Rosie rides again

"Rosie the Rocketeer," Boeing's anthropometric test device, will be strapped into the Starliner for its second Orbital Flight Test — this time to help the spacecraft maintain its center of gravity throughout the various phases of the flight.

Above: Wearing her Boeing blue spacesuit and red polka-dot head scarf, teams strapped the anthropometric test device securely into the commander seat.

The countdown is on for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner second Orbital Flight Test, or OFT-2. Targeted for July 30, the uncrewed flight is scheduled to lift off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 2:53 p.m. Eastern time — but the capsule won't be empty. "Rosie the Rocketeer," Boeing's anthropometric test device, will be reclaiming the commander's seat for the test flight to and from the International Space Station.

"She is a 180 pound test device in European tan that is meant to represent the 50th percentile of human dimensions in height and weight," said Melanie Weber, the subsystem lead for Crew and Cargo Accommodations on the Commercial Crew Program. "Rosie's first flight provided hundreds of data points about what astronauts will experience during flight, but this time she'll help maintain Starliner's center of gravity during ascent, docking, undocking and landing."

"Even the car you drive must maintain its center of gravity or it could rollover," Weber said.

For OFT-2, spacecraft data capture ports previously connected to Rosie's 15 sensors will be used to collect data from sensors placed along the seat pallet, which is the infrastructure that holds all the crew seats in place.

"While Rosie provided us critical insight into how much force her body experienced in the commander seat during the first OFT mission, these new sensors will capture data to characterize the motion of all four crew seats," said Dan Niedermaier, crew module chief engineer. "Generally, all seat locations behave similarly; however, there are small differences that our engineers want to validate to ensure everyone gets a nice, enjoyable ride."

Wearing her Boeing blue spacesuit and red polka dot head scarf, teams recently strapped Rosie securely into her seat. Rosie the Rocketeer is named after World War II's Rosie the Riveter as an ode to the women who have blazed a trail in aerospace and human spaceflight. During this flight, she will even be wearing a matching face mask that was hand-sewn by 95-year-old Mae Krier. Krier is a real-life Rosie who helped build planes in a Boeing factory in Seattle when she was 17 years old.

"Women in aerospace have made great strides, and hopefully Rosie will inspire more to enter the industry," Weber said. "It is absolutely important to include all people in this field to make sure our services and products accommodate all people. We only become stronger when we have diverse perspectives."

Above: The Starliner anthropometric test device, Rosie the Rocketeer, will wear a hand-sewn Rosie-themed COVID-19 mask and an autographed Rosie scarf during the capsule's upcoming Orbital Flight Test 2, or OFT-2.

Weber made history as the first woman and first Hispanic to lead operations at a launch pad during the Starliner's first Orbital Flight Test. She looks forward to seeing Rosie again when the spacecraft is moved to the Vertical Integration Facility to be mated with the ULA Atlas V rocket ahead of OFT-2. Prior to the move, the Starliner spacecraft, comprising the crew module and service module, will be loaded onto a weight and center of gravity machine in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center to ensure Rosie and the cargo are properly balanced.

"We are all excited to see Rosie in the Starliner again because she symbolizes our bigger goal of safely and reliably transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station," Weber said.

Following a successful OFT-2 mission, NASA and Boeing are targeting late 2021 for the Crew Flight Test, which will be Starliner's first flight with astronauts on board.

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United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Starliner at the VIF

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft arrived at ULA's Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) and was lifted onto the Atlas V rocket for the upcoming OFT-2 launch.

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Boeing release
Starliner Leaves Factory, Integrates with Atlas V Rocket

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is now poised to launch on a mission to demonstrate the system is ready to begin transporting NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

The spacecraft rolled out July 17 from the back of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a transport vehicle and then left the parking lot about 4:00 a.m. ET. Starliner made a slow, carefully orchestrated, 10-mile (16-kilometer) trek to United Launch Alliance's Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

After about an hour-long journey, Starliner was hoisted and mated to the Atlas V rocket that will launch the uncrewed spacecraft to orbit. With the two vehicles now connected, the teams will perform integrated testing to ensure they're properly communicating with one another prior to launch.

"Seeing the Starliner atop the Atlas V just days away from launch is symbolic of how proud our team feels about executing this mission," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program. "OFT-2 is a critical milestone on our path to crewed flights, and we're all ready to see our hard work come to life with a successful mission from beginning to end."

Boeing worked hand-in-hand with NASA to address lessons learned from Starliner's first flight, including re-verifying flight code, completing a comprehensive test of flight software, and performing an end-to-end mission rehearsal with final flight software, hardware and mission operators. The company also successfully closed out dozens of recommended actions by a joint NASA and Boeing Independent Review Team.

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United Launch Alliance (ULA) release
Atlas V and Starliner rolled out to pad

Rollout of the 172-foot-tall Atlas V rocket to launch the second Orbital Flight Test of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft began at 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT) on Thursday (July 29). ULA technicians verified the alignment and then lowered the Mobile Launch Platform onto the launch pad pedestals to complete the rollout at 10:59 a.m. EDT (1459 GMT).

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NASA release
Update to NASA's Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 Mission

NASA and Boeing have decided to stand down from Friday's (July 30) launch attempt of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Currently, launch teams are assessing the next available opportunity.

The move allows the International Space Station team time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos' Nauka module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner's arrival.

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United Launch Alliance (ULA) update
Rollback Status

For the protection of the Starliner and Atlas V, and to avoid inclement weather, we are rolling back to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF).

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Boeing release
Teams Targeting Aug. 3 for Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch

With the International Space Station in a good configuration and ready to welcome Boeing's CST-100 Starliner, teams from NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance are targeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 1:20 p.m. ET, for the Orbital Flight Test-2 launch. Docking with the International Space Station is scheduled for the following day, Wednesday, Aug. 4, at about 1:37 p.m. ET.

Starliner, positioned atop United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, is safely within the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) after rolling back from the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Friday afternoon, to protect the vehicle from inclement weather. The vehicle will roll to the launch pad again the morning of Monday, Aug. 2.

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United Launch Alliance (ULA) update (photos: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Atlas V Arrives (Back) at the Pad

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is perched atop Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex-41 for Tuesday's (Aug. 3) launch of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner on the Orbital Flight Test-2 in support of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The Atlas V was transported from the Vertical Integration Facility to begin final launch preparations. The loading of RP-1, a highly refined kerosene, into the Atlas V first stage will occur later today.

The Mobile Launch Platform traveled to the pad with the help of undercarriage railcars and trackmobile machines that push the entire 1.6-million-pound MLP and Atlas V rocket along tracks up the hill to the pad. The trip began with first motion at 7:23 a.m. and concluded once the MLP was secured to the pad pedestals at 8:38 a.m. EDT.

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Boeing release
NASA-Boeing to Delay Starliner Launch

During pre-launch preparations for the uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, Boeing engineers monitoring the health and status of the vehicle detected unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system. The issue was initially detected during check outs following yesterday's electrical storms in the region of Kennedy Space Center.

Consequently, the launch of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be postponed. The launch was scheduled for 1:20 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Boeing and NASA teams are assessing the situation. The team will provide updates regarding a launch attempt on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

"We're disappointed with today's outcome and the need to reschedule our Starliner launch," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "Human spaceflight is a complex, precise and unforgiving endeavor, and Boeing and NASA teams will take the time they need to ensure the safety and integrity of the spacecraft and the achievement of our mission objectives."

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Boeing release
Starliner Team Will Take Additional Time To Prepare For Launch

Following today's (Aug. 3) scrubbed launch of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, Boeing is working to understand the source of the unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system. The issues were first detected during checkouts after electrical storms passed over Kennedy Space Center on Monday.

Engineering teams have now cycled the Service Module propulsion system valves with the Starliner and Atlas V on the launch pad and have ruled out a number of potential causes, including software. Additional time is needed to complete the assessment and, as a result, NASA and Boeing are not proceeding with tomorrow's launch opportunity.

"We're going to let the data lead our work," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "Our team has worked diligently to ensure the safety and success of this mission, and we will not launch until our vehicle is performing nominally and our teams are confident it is ready to fly."

Teams will power down the spacecraft this evening, and roll the rocket and spacecraft back to the Vertical Integration Facility on Wednesday for further inspection and testing to inform the next steps.

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NASA release
NASA, Boeing Continue Starliner Data Analysis

NASA and Boeing are continuing to work through steps to determine what caused the unexpected valve position indications on the CST-100 Starliner propulsion system.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V with the Starliner spacecraft on top will be returned to its Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Thursday where engineers will have direct access to Starliner for continued troubleshooting.

The data will drive any corrective measures that may be necessary to ensure Starliner is ready for launch. When NASA's Commercial Crew Program and Boeing Space agree the issue is resolved, a new launch opportunity will be selected, taking into account the readiness of all parties involved.

"The Boeing and NASA teams are working methodically to understand what caused the valve indications on the Starliner service module propulsion system," Steve Stich, manager of the Commercial Crew Program, said. "The troubleshooting in the Vertical Integration Facility will help focus on potential causes and next steps before we fly the OFT-2 mission."

Early in the launch countdown for the Tuesday, Aug. 3 launch attempt, engineers detected indications that not all of Starliner's propulsion system valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch of the company's second uncrewed orbital flight test to the International Space Station, a mission designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable system as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Mission teams decided to halt the countdown to further analyze the issue, which was conducted later Tuesday via several steps to troubleshoot the incorrect valve indications, including cycling the service module propulsion system valves.

After presenting the data to NASA and Boeing managers, it was decided to relocate the Atlas V and Starliner to the VIF for further inspection and testing where access to the spacecraft is available for further inspection and testing. Engineering teams have ruled out a number of potential causes, including software, and the direct access is required to continue the assessment.

"This mission is extremely important for the Commercial Crew Program on the path to the Boeing Crewed Flight Test," Stich said. "We will fly the mission when we are ready. I am extremely proud of the NASA and Boeing teams for their professionalism, perseverance, and methodical approach to solving complex problems."

NASA and Boeing will take whatever time is necessary to ensure Starliner is ready for its important uncrewed flight test to the space station and will look for the next available opportunity after resolution of the issue.

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Boeing release
Starliner, Atlas V Secured in Vertical Integration Facility

This morning, the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, atop an Atlas V rocket, returned to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) as work continues for Starliner's second uncrewed orbital flight test.

Teams from Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) have begun assembly of necessary support structures around the spacecraft to access the vehicle's Service Module.

Boeing engineers are progressing a systematic inspection and troubleshooting plan to determine the cause of the unexpected valve position indications in the Service Module's propulsion system, which led to the scrub of Tuesday's launch.

One of the first steps will be to power on the spacecraft, a process that takes several hours. This step will enable the team to send commands to the Starliner and receive data real-time.

"We're letting the data drive our decision-making and we will not fly until our integrated teams are comfortable and confident," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program.

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Boeing release
Starliner Work in Vertical Integration Facility to Continue Through Weekend

This weekend, Boeing engineers will continue testing and evaluating the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex-41.

Yesterday, teams powered up the spacecraft to receive data and send commands to the propulsion system valves that unexpectedly indicated "closed" positions early in the launch countdown on Tuesday. The transmitted commands successfully opened some of the valves, giving the team new data to assess while also beginning physical inspections.

"Cautiously optimistic is a good way to describe how the team is feeling," said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager. "They're coming forward with innovative ideas and prioritizing the safety of the spacecraft and their teammates."

Boeing aims to perform all activities at the VIF before returning to the launch pad for flight. If necessary, the spacecraft could return to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center for further troubleshooting and inspections and possibly return to the pad for launch this month.

Boeing is assessing multiple launch opportunities for Starliner in August and will work with NASA and United Launch Alliance to confirm those dates when the team is ready to proceed with the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

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Boeing release
Boeing Advances Starliner Solutions in the Vertical Integration Facility

This weekend, Boeing restored functionality on more of the 13 CST-100 Starliner propulsion system valves that did not open as designed during prelaunch system checks last week.

Boeing has completed physical inspections and chemical sampling on the exterior of a number of the affected valves, which indicated no signs of damage or external corrosion. Test teams are now applying mechanical, electrical and thermal techniques to prompt the valves open. Seven of the 13 valves are now operating as designed, with inspection and remediation of the remaining affected valves to be performed in the days ahead.

Boeing is working a systematic plan to open the affected valves, demonstrate repeatable system performance, and verify the root cause of the issue before returning Starliner to the launch pad for its Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

The company is assessing multiple launch opportunities for Starliner in August and will work with NASA and United Launch Alliance to confirm those dates when the spacecraft is ready.

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Boeing release
Boeing Works to Open Starliner Valves, Determine Cause of Valve Issues

As Boeing teams continue to work around the clock to return functionality to a number of oxidizer valves on the CST-100 Starliner's propulsion system, the company is simultaneously working with its NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne partners to determine the cause of the valve issues discovered during prelaunch checks.

Nine of the previously affected 13 valves are now open and functioning normally after the application of electrical and thermal techniques to prompt and command them open. Similar techniques are now being applied to the four valves that remain closed.

"Over the past couple of days, our team has taken the necessary time to safely access and test the affected valves, and not let the launch window dictate our pace," said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager.

The company will work with NASA and United Launch Alliance to confirm a new launch date when the spacecraft is ready.

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Boeing release
Starliner Returning to Factory to Resolve Valve Issue

Today, Boeing informed NASA that the company will destack its CST-100 Starliner from the Atlas V rocket and return the spacecraft to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) for deeper-level troubleshooting of four propulsion system valves that remain closed after last Tuesday's scrubbed launch.

Starliner has sat atop the Atlas V rocket in ULA's Vertical Integration Facility since August 4, where Boeing teams have worked to restore functionality to the affected valves.

The relocation of the spacecraft to the C3PF will require Boeing, NASA and United Launch Alliance to agree on a new launch date once the valve issue is resolved.

"Mission success in human spaceflight depends on thousands of factors coming together at the right time," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "We'll continue to work the issue from the Starliner factory and have decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions."

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Boeing update (via Twitter):
Thanks to help from United Launch Alliance, Starliner is safely inside our production factory. We will continue working closely with NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne to diagnose and resolve the issue with the spacecraft's propulsion system valves.

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NASA release
Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 Status

The NASA, Boeing team continues to make progress on the investigation of the oxidizer isolation valve issue on the Starliner service module propulsion system that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.

"I am proud of the work our integrated teams are doing," said Steve Stich, manager of the Commercial Crew Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "This is a complex issue involving hazardous commodities and intricate areas of the spacecraft that are not easily accessed. It has taken a methodical approach and sound engineering to effectively examine."

Boeing has demonstrated success in valve functionality using localized heating and electrical charging techniques. Troubleshooting on the pad, at the launch complex, and inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center has resulted in movement of all but one of the original stuck valves. That valve has not been moved intentionally to preserve forensics for direct root cause analysis.

Most items on the fault tree have been dispositioned by the team including causes related to avionics, flight software and wiring. Boeing has identified a most probable cause related to oxidizer and moisture interactions, and although some verification work remains underway, our confidence is high enough that we are commencing corrective and preventive actions. Additional spacecraft and component testing will be conducted in the coming weeks to further explore contributing factors and necessary system remediation before flight.

Boeing completed a partial disassembly of three of the affected Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) thruster valves last month and plans to remove three valves from the OFT-2 spacecraft in the coming weeks for further inspection. The team also is evaluating additional testing to repeat the initial valve failures.

Boeing has identified several paths forward depending on the outcome of the testing to ultimately resolve the issue and prevent it from happening on future flights. These options could range from minor refurbishment of the current service module components to using another service module already in production. Each option is dependent on data points the team expects to collect in the coming weeks including a timeline for safely proceeding back to the launch pad.

"Safety of the Starliner spacecraft, our employees, and our crew members is this team's number one priority," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Starliner program. "We are taking the appropriate amount of time to work through the process now to set this system up for success on OFT-2 and all future Starliner missions."

Potential launch windows for OFT-2 continue to be assessed by NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, and the Eastern Range. The team currently is working toward opportunities in early 2022 pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest, and space station availability.

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NASA and Boeing release
Boeing to Move Up Service Modules for Commercial Crew Flight Tests

Following extensive testing and analysis of oxidizer isolation valves on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner service module propulsion system, Boeing has decided to move up service modules currently in production for its upcoming uncrewed and crewed flight tests to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The service module originally planned for its Crew Flight Test (CFT) will now be used for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, and the service module planned for the Starliner-1 flight will be used for CFT.

"NASA has been working side-by-side with Boeing on the service module valve investigation, including leveraging the agency's materials and propellants expertise to better characterize the potential causes of the issue," said Steve Stich, manager, NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "Because of the combined work, we have a much better understanding of the contributors that led to the valve issues, and ways to prevent it from happening in the future. Boeing remains diligent and driven by the data during its decision making, which is key to ensuring the Starliner system is ready when we fly our test missions in 2022."

Ongoing investigation efforts continue to validate the most probable cause to be related to oxidizer and moisture interactions. NASA and Boeing will continue the analysis and testing of the initial service module on which the issue was identified leading up to launch of the uncrewed OFT-2 mission in August 2021.

"Our objective was to get back to flight safely and as soon as possible. With this objective in mind, we set out on parallel paths: remediating valves to preserve the option of utilizing the existing service module (SM2), while also working to accelerate the build of the next service module (SM4)," said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "Based on the results to date we've decided to fly SM4 next and continue longer term tests with SM2 hardware, on the vehicle and in offline facilities."

Teams conducted extensive analysis on the valves in Boeing's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and outside laboratories. That analysis included testing samples of the corrosion, using specialized micro CT scans and borescopes to see inside the valves, exposing parts of valves to various conditions, and removing and disassembling several valves.

"I am incredibly proud of the entire NASA and Boeing team for their creativity and technical excellence while working this investigation," Stich said.

Testing is continuing at NASA's White Sands Test Facility to expose the valves to conditions similar to those that the spacecraft experienced inside the factory and at the Atlas V launch pad and Vertical Integration Facility prior to the last launch attempt.

Testing has already taken place on the former CFT, now OFT-2, service module to ensure the health of the hardware. The team will also apply preventative remediation efforts to this service module to prevent similar issues from occurring. The team is now working through next steps for removing and replacing the service module.

"The members of the combined team are consummate professionals, who continue to safely and systematically troubleshoot and safe the wet propellant system," said Vollmer. "I'm very proud of their resolve."

NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and the Eastern Range continue to assess potential launch windows for OFT-2. As part of the standard process for requesting a launch slot on ULA's manifest in the first half of 2022, Boeing has agreed to an open window in May, pending spacecraft readiness and space station availability. Potential launch windows for CFT are under review.

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United Launch Alliance release
OFT-2: Pegasus barge brings Atlas V to launch site

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has positioned all elements at Cape Canaveral of the Atlas V rocket that will launch the second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Above: NASA's Pegasus barge arrives at sunrise April 12 to deliver the Atlas V first stage for OFT-2 to Cape Canaveral. (ULA)

Unique circumstances required ingenuity to develop a different transportation plan to ship the Atlas V first stage booster from the ULA rocket factory in Decatur, Alabama, to the launch site in Florida without using ULA's R/S RocketShip cargo vessel. The arrangement ensures launch preparations remain on schedule for OFT-2's liftoff next month.

With river locks on the route closed for maintenance and RocketShip using that opportunity to undergo a routine dry dock period, ULA partnered with NASA to craft a new shipment plan that featured the Pegasus barge from the space shuttle and Space Launch System (SLS) programs.

On March 31, the 107-foot-long (33-meter) Atlas V stage began the journey from Decatur aboard a smaller, open-air barge that could fit through an auxiliary lock at the Wilson Dam and bypass the lock closure on the Tennessee River. The one-day trek aboard the barge moved the Atlas V to the port in Iuka, Mississippi, to meet up with the Pegasus.

The small barge has previously been used to transport ULA hardware, including earlier this year to transport the Centaur V from the factory to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center for testing.

Above: The Atlas V first stage emerges from Pegasus. (ULA)

The Atlas V, wrapped in a protective covering for the trip, was transferred to Pegasus on April 1 and then set sail for Cape Canaveral. It followed the same route that RocketShip would have taken, moving to the Ohio River and then down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and around the Florida peninsula to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's wharf. Arrival occurred April 12.

Pegasus was built in 1999 to deliver space shuttle external fuel tanks from their manufacturing facility in New Orleans to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Engineers modified the 310-foot-long, 50-foot-wide (94-meter, 15-meter) covered barge to transport the larger and heavier Space Launch System core stages along the same route.

This morning (April 13), ULA technicians unloaded the Atlas V stage and took it to the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC) for final preparations to begin the launch campaign.

The original first stage for the OFT-2 mission, which was stacked on the mobile launch platform (MLP) last summer, was repurposed and successfully launched NASA's Lucy spacecraft to the Trojan asteroids.

Above: The Atlas V first stage was shipped to the Cape aboard the Pegasus. (ULA)

The stage delivered today will be used with launch vehicle hardware that has been in safe storage since the OFT-2 postponement last August, including a pair of AJ-60 solid rocket boosters and the Centaur upper stage that remained integrated with the rocket's interstage and the Launch Vehicle Adapter.

All elements will soon be brought together at the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to launch Starliner on a full mission demonstration of launch, rendezvous and docking to the International Space Station and return to Earth for landing in the Western U.S.

Launch is targeted for May. It will be ULA's 150th mission and the 93rd flight of Atlas V.

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Boeing release
Starliner returns to launch site for OFT-2

The spacecraft rolled out May 4 from the back of Boeing's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a transport vehicle and then left the parking lot at about 11:00 a.m. EDT. Starliner made a carefully orchestrated trek to United Launch Alliance's Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Above: Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022, on its way to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (NASA/Glenn Benson)

After about an hour-long journey, Starliner was hoisted and mated to the Atlas V rocket that will launch the uncrewed spacecraft to orbit. With the two vehicles now connected, the teams will perform integrated testing to ensure they're properly communicating with one another prior to launch.

The return to the launch site comes after diligent testing and analysis work by the Starliner team, which became necessary when propulsion system valves did not open as designed during prelaunch system checks last year. The completed spacecraft that returned to the launch complex included the same reusable crew module attached to a brand-new service module.

Above: United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft are fully assembled in preparation for an integrated systems test. (NASA/Glenn Benson)

Teams integrated a new direct purge system into the service module in order to protect the valves from ambient moisture at Boeing's spacecraft factory, on the roll out to the VIF and while Starliner is at the VIF. The purge system will prevent moisture from entering the valves by flowing dry nitrogen gas directly to oxidizer valves in the service module and surrounding them with a dry environment.

An additional vehicle conditioning purge system, provided by ULA and part of standard prelaunch operational procedures, will give the spacecraft ideal environmental conditions from the load onto the transport vehicle through L-8 hours. Just prior to cryogenic propellant loading, Starliner will begin receiving a dry atmosphere through the launch vehicle's gaseous nitrogen purge system.

The purge system will be monitored and the valves cycled frequently until launch, which is targeted for May 19 at 6:54 p.m. EDT.

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Boeing release
Flight Readiness Concludes for Boeing's Orbital Flight Test-2

NASA and Boeing managers take part in the Flight Readiness Review for NASA's Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, May 11, 2022.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19. The uncrewed flight test will be Starliner's second flight for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

NASA and Boeing are proceeding with plans for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station following a full day of briefings and discussions during a Flight Readiness Review that took place at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

OFT-2 will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. OFT-2 will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing's crew transportation system to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

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Boeing release (photo: United Launch Alliance)
Starliner Roll to Pad

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner is now in launch position at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Starliner is mated to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner, positioned atop the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket, rolled out today from the Vertical Integration Facility to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Starliner stands ready to launch for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2).

The flight test, which includes orbital maneuvering, International Space Station (ISS) rendezvous, docking, undocking and landing operations, will validate all of the critical systems and capabilities ahead of Boeing's first flight carrying astronauts to and from the ISS.

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Boeing release
Atlas V Fueled for Liftoff

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner is nearing the launch of its Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that will lift the vehicle into space is now fueled and configured for stable replenish. Additionally, the pad team has been cleared to re-enter Space Launch Complex-41 for spacecraft closeout operations. Everything remains on target for the 6:54 p.m. ET launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida.

Just prior to cryogenic propellant loading, Starliner began receiving a dry atmosphere through the launch vehicle's gaseous nitrogen purge system. The service module oxidizer isolation valves have completed their final cycling prior to launch. The valves have been cycled seven times since propellant loading at the factory. As part of standard prelaunch ops, at about L-30 minutes, they'll be opened for flight.

The Atlas V RD-180 main engine and two solid rocket boosters will ignite to generate more than a million and half pounds of thrust to lift the rocket away from the pad. The RD-180 main engine burns 48,800 gallons of liquid oxygen and 25,000 gallons of RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene, to generate 860,300 pounds of thrust.

The Centaur is powered by two RL10A-4-2 engines that consume 12,300 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 4,150 gallons of liquid oxygen to generate a combined 44,600 pounds of thrust to shape the desired trajectory for Starliner. During the flight, Atlas V will accelerate Starliner to 17,475 mph.

The powered flight of Atlas V to launch Starliner's OFT-2 lasts about 11 minutes and 55 seconds. The first stage of flight will last about 4 minutes and 30 seconds. The single burn of the Centaur lasts about 7 minutes and 10 seconds.

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Boeing release
Starliner Proceeding Toward Flight

The Boeing pad operations team closed the hatch to the CST-100 Starliner inside the White Room ahead of its liftoff atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). Inside the Starliner is "Rosie the Rocketeer," an anthropometric test device, and about 800 pounds (362 kilograms) of cargo, 500 pounds (227 kilograms) for NASA, bound for the International Space Station.

About 15 minutes prior to liftoff, the Starliner spacecraft will transition to internal power.

Members of the pad team also completed leak checks, ensuring the hatch is sealed and pressure readings within the spacecraft are stable. This is one of many checks during Starliner's OFT-2. The end-to-end test is a critical developmental milestone on the company's path toward flying crew missions for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The pad team will soon depart Space Launch Complex-41 and head toward a safe distance away from the launch pad. At about 10 minutes prior to launch, the Crew Access Arm will retract away from the spacecraft.

At L-3 hours, Starliner and Atlas V engineering teammates in Florida and flight controllers in Houston set the Starliner's Mission Elapsed Timer (MET), which is the system the autonomous spacecraft uses to know what phase of the mission it is in to correctly perform the appropriate next steps. Another pre-flight check of the MET is performed during the terminal count, which is within 4 minutes of the targeted liftoff time. Flight controllers will verify it again at about 10 seconds after liftoff.

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Boeing release
Launch and Ascent Phase Complete, Orbital Insertion Up Next

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner and United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket soared across the sky May 19 for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), lifting off at 6:54 p.m. ET.

The Atlas V RD-180 main engine and two solid rocket boosters ignited, generating more than a million and half pounds of thrust to lift the rocket away from the pad. The Atlas V immediately began pitching over to attain the proper flight path, while minimizing the dynamic pressure the vehicle experiences during flight.

Ten seconds after liftoff, flight controllers confirmed the Starliner's Mission Elapsed (MET) timer was operating as intended. Twelve seconds into the flight, the Atlas V rolled to a "heads up" position and used booster engine throttling to limit the vehicle's acceleration to 3.5 g's. This will provide crew safety and comfort during future flights with astronauts for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

At about 45 seconds, the rocket carrying Starliner entered Max Q, or maximum aerodynamic pressure. This was the moment where the rocket experienced the highest mechanical stress. A little over a minute into the flight, the Atlas V reached Mach One or the speed of sound.

One minute and 35 seconds after liftoff, the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) burned out, running out of fuel. About a minute later, the SRBs successfully jettisoned or separated from the rocket.

The Starliner's ascent cover jettisoned nearly five minutes after liftoff. The ascent cover protected critical hardware on top of the spacecraft and provided an aerodynamic shape for ascent through the atmosphere.

The Centaur upper stage then ignited, pushing Starliner to near orbital speeds. The Centaur generated 44,600 pounds of thrust to shape the desired trajectory for Starliner to reach the International Space Station. The single burn of the Centaur lasted about 7 minutes and 10 seconds.

Out of the Earth's atmosphere and no longer needing the additional aerodynamic support, the Starliner then jettisoned its aeroskirt. The aeroskirt extended the Starliner's surface, enhancing its aerodynamic characteristics and stability. It also minimized the loads of this unique crewed configuration.

Nearly 12 minutes into flight, the Centaur's upper stage main engines cut off, also known as MECO. The mission has now entered a sub-orbital coast phase in preparation for spacecraft separation.

Centaur's sub-orbital trajectory design enhances crew safety by providing a shallow orbit more favorable for an abort if required, and ensures the Centaur will naturally de-orbit, impacting the ocean off the southwest coast of Australia.

At about 14 minutes and 55 seconds, Centaur released the Starliner. Coming up next is the orbital insertion burn of the Starliner spacecraft.


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