Boeing, NASA Push First Crewed Starliner Flight to 2023
NASA and Boeing have pushed back the first Starliner flight test with astronauts to February 2023, the agency announced Thursday. The flight was previously expected in December of this year.
The Starliner spacecraft is targeted launch in early February on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, carrying NASA astronaut test pilots Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams to the International Space Station (ISS).
This will be the first Starliner test with astronauts after Boeing completed a successful uncrewed test in May 2022, in which the Starliner spent six days in space. May’s Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) was a repeat of the December 2019 test that did not dock with the ISS. The failed test prompted a major NASA review and resulted in millions of dollars in charges for Boeing.
NASA and Boeing are working to address issues from OFT-2, including the early shutoff of some thrusters and a cooling loop anomaly. System enhancements to improve crew interfaces and streamline spacecraft operations are also planned.
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, through which SpaceX made history as the first privately owned company to launch human beings into space in May 2020. SpaceX now regularly provides crew transport to the ISS for NASA.
After the mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for crew missions to the space station.