Boeing Starliner spacecraft prepares for second attempt to reach the International Space Station
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The Boeing Starliner spacecraft is part of NASA’s “Commercial Crew Program” through which the agency cooperates with commercial companies to accelerate the development of manned spacecraft. Its purpose is to end the United States’ dependence on the Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft to transport NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The efforts of Boeing rival SpaceX are progressing smoothly. In the first commercial mission of the program, which ended in May, it successfully used its manned “Dragon” spacecraft to transport NASA astronauts.
After years of development, the Starliner spacecraft embarked on its first flight to the International Space Station in December 2019. But instead of docking with the space station, it stayed in the wrong orbit for two days before being safely brought back to Earth. NASA and Boeing immediately began a joint review to find out the cause of the error, pointing out that software failures and communication failures were part of the problem.
The recommendations made by the review team have now been issued by the mission planner. Before the second flight of the Starliner spacecraft, they also conducted a comprehensive mission simulation and rehearsal. This week, a dummy named “Rosie the Rocketeer” was placed on the commander’s chair.
Boeing in the first Starliner mission “Rosie the Rocketeer” was also used in, and 15 sensors were worn for it to collect data on the impact of spaceflight on astronauts. This time, sensors will be inserted into the data collection port of the spacecraft to collect information from the pallet that secures all the crew seats.
Everything goes according to plan. The Starliner spacecraft will autonomously dock with the space station and deliver about 440 pounds (200 kg) of cargo and supplies for its astronauts. It will stay there for 5 to 10 days, then leave and return to Earth, landing in the western United States. If it can successfully fly this time, NASA and Boeing hope to progress to a manned mission before the end of this year.
The mission is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral on July 30 (Friday), using Atlas V rockets as the launch vehicle.