Boeing’s astronaut taxi stays on observe for a December demonstration flight to the International Space Station (ISS) after passing a critical safety test earlier this week. The CST-100 Starliner capsule used its emergency-escape thrusters to get airborne during a ” pad abort test” on the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Vary in New Mexico. Technicians have now had a while to research the data, and the initial assessments are very constructive, NASA officers and Boeing representatives stated.
“This was a sturdy test of what the vehicle can do if we ever had a problem on the [launch] pad,” Kathy Lueders, supervisor of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), stated, throughout a teleconference with reporters today (Nov. 7). Boeing has been growing starliner below a $4.2 billion CCP contract, which was introduced in September 2014. SpaceX additionally acquired a CCP deal, snaring $2.6 billion to get its Crew Dragon capsule up and operating. The objective, from NASA’s perspective, is to return an orbital human spaceflight functionality to American soil; for a reason that retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the agency has been entirely dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its astronauts to and from the ISS.
Lueders described Monday’s test as an “enormous step” and stated further analyses would assist Boeing and NASA prep for “the uncrewed mission that is coming up and then finally to the crewed mission that we’re all getting ready for subsequent yr.” That uncrewed mission, often called Orbital Flight Test (OFT), is scheduled to launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Pressure Station no earlier than Dec 17. Starliner will make its approach to the ISS, stay connected to the orbiting lab for a couple of weeks after which come again down to Earth.
If all goes well with OFT, a crewed demonstration mission to the ISS will follow sometime the subsequent 12 months. Contracted, operational flights would come after that. Crew Dragon has already flown its model of the OFT, spending six days hooked up to the ISS this previous March on a mission known as Demo-1. Demo-2, which will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the orbiting lab, could launch early next yr if all went well with crew Dragon’s upcoming in-flight abort trial and continued testing of the capsule’s newly redesigned parachute system, SpaceX representatives have mentioned.