Waiting for launch: Starliner is installed on the Atlas V rocket

Employees of the Kennedy Space Center installed the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the Atlas V rocket. Next month, it will send it on its first manned flight to the ISS.

Installation of the Starliner on the Atlas V rocket. Source: Boeing

The CST-100 Starliner was developed by Boeing under a NASA contract issued under the CCP program. Its goal is to create private manned spacecraft designed to deliver astronauts to the ISS. The second contract for this program went to SpaceX, which built the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The first test of the Starliner took place in December 2019. It was partially successful. Due to the incorrect operation of the engines, the spacecraft was unable to dock with the ISS and returned to Earth ahead of schedule.

The second test took place in May 2022. This time, the spacecraft managed to dock with the ISS, although not without some problems. Nevertheless, according to its results, NASA approved the first flight of the Starliner with a crew. However, it had to wait another two years. Subsequent postponements of the launch date were caused by problems with the spacecraft’s parachute system, as well as the tape used to wind the wires, which turned out to be flammable.

After engineers fixed all the flaws and conducted tests of the updated parachute system, the Starliner finally received the green light for the first manned flight. It is scheduled on May 6. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will be on board the spacecraft.

The main task of the flight is to check how the spacecraft’s systems will behave with people on board. The flight plan provides that the Starliner will dock with the ISS, spend eight days in its structure, after which it will return to Earth. The successful completion of the flight will allow NASA to certify the Starliner for regular ISS crew rotation missions. The first such flight is scheduled for early 2025.

According to https://spacenews.com

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