ORLANDO, Fla. — Boeing is now targeting March 2021 for a second uncrewed test flight of its Starliner crew capsule, which was necessitated after the first test flight a year ago went awry.
What You Need To Know
- Boeing Starliner uncrewed test flight now targeted for Mach 2021
- Test flight is a redo of 1st test flight in 2019, which went awry
- Once 2nd test is a success, 1st crewed mission could happen this summer
The company made the announcement about the March 29, 2021 date earlier this week in a Starliner blog post. Boeing had previously targeted this month for the test flight.
For the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, Boeing plans to launch the uncrewed Starliner from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, dock it with the International Space Station, and bring it back to Earth, where it will land in the western U.S. about a week later "as part of an end-to-end test to prove the system is ready to fly crew," Boeing said.
OFT-2 comes more than year after Boeing's first test flight, in which the Starliner ended up in the wrong orbit and was not able to dock with the ISS as planned. NASA investigators later determined that several critical errors were made that could have caused the mission to end in catastrophe. The space agency's investigation pointed the blame at Boeing, saying the company should have caught at least two of them.
The development of the Starliner's reusable crew module is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, in which the agency is contracting out human spaceflight to private companies. SpaceX's Crew Dragon program has already launched two crews to the ISS as part of it.
Once OFT-2 is successful, a Boeing Crew Flight Test mission will follow, currently targeted for summer 2021. NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Nicole Mann are booked for the CFT.