Boeing’s Starliner capsule rolls out to the launch pad Dec. 18, 2019, on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Boeing said Tuesday it is “making excellent progress” toward launching a second unpiloted test flight of its Starliner crew capsule to the International Space Station by the end of this year or in early January, setting the stage for the first Starliner demonstration mission with astronauts in mid-2021.
The upcoming test flight is the second launch of a Starliner capsule into orbit after a first Orbital Flight Test was cut short in December 2019 due to a software error that caused the spacecraft to consume too much propellant soon after arriving in orbit. The high-than-expected fuel usage prevented the Starliner spacecraft from docking with the International Space Station.
Working under contract with NASA, Boeing is preparing for a second unpiloted Starliner test flight to validate corrections to the spacecraft’s software and prove out the ship’s ability to dock with the station. Officials decided to add a second unpiloted test flight earlier this year before moving on to the Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, which will carry Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and ...