UPDATE: Tuesday’s launch was called off a couple of hours before lift-off due to technical issues that emerged. NASA and Boeing are yet to decide if it will go for a Wednesday launch.
NASA is gearing up for a crucial test flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
The uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission is set to launch at 1:20 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 3, and will involve sending Starliner on a five-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) 250 miles above Earth. The original launch date of Friday, July 30 was scrubbed after an incident at the space station involving a newly docked module.
The upcoming Starliner flight follows a failed attempt to send the spacecraft to the ISS in December 2019, so there’s a lot riding on the upcoming mission.
An investigation into the failed flight surfaced numerous issues with Starliner’s systems that Boeing and NASA have addressed but now need to thoroughly test during OFT-2.
To make the most of the mission, Starliner will take with it supplies and cargo for the space station, and return to Earth with research samples from experiments conducted on the orbiting laboratory.
All being well, Starliner will dock with the ISS the day after launch. It’ll stay at the station for five days before returning to Earth and touching down in a parachute-assisted landing at the White Sands Space Harbor about 150 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A successful mission will take the Starliner spacecraft a big step toward its first crewed flight to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The program has already succeeded in returning human spaceflight missions to U.S. soil with the help of SpaceX, and crewed missions to the moon and even Mars are also on the cards.
How to watch
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday, August 3.
The ULA Atlas 5 rocket carrying the spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 1:20 p.m. ET (10:20 a.m. PT). Live coverage of the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET (9:30 a.m. PT).
You can watch the livestream by hitting the play button on the player embedded at the top of this page or by visiting NASA’s website.
Just over an hour after lift-off, NASA will conduct a news conference about the launch.
On Wednesday, August 4, NASA will provide live coverage of Starliner docking with the space station, which is expected to take place at 1:37 p.m. ET (10:37 a.m. PT). The approach will also be streamed, so if you’re interested, be sure to join the coverage an hour or so before.
All times are subject to change according to conditions and events.
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