Boeing Starliner Going for the ISS Again in March, This Time Plans to Catch It

Boeing Starliner getting ready for the second test flight 1 photo
Photo: Boeing/John Proferes
2019 was the year when America’s space exploration efforts went private. Both SpaceX and Boeing performed their first test launches of the Crew Dragon and Starliner spaceships, respectively, but whereas the former succeeded, the latter failed.
The Crew Dragon is up and running, having already taken several astronauts up to the International Space Station (ISS). Starliner would have done the same if it hadn’t been for the botched attempt to dock with the station.

Boeing’s spaceship took off on December 20, 2019, and the launch went without a hitch. When it was time to dock with the ISS, however, a software glitch made the spaceship believe it was in an orbital insertion burn, when it was not, and that prevented it from reaching the correct position for a link-up with the space station.

Since then, all has been quiet on the Boeing front, but that will change in March when NASA and the aerospace company are planning the second uncrewed test, called Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). The flight will lift off with the help of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on March 25.

NASA says the spaceship’s software has been “requalified” after a full review and a bunch of tests performed to ensure everything is in working order. Before the actual launch, Boeing will “complete an end-to-end simulation of the OFT-2 test flight using flight hardware and final versions of Starliner’s flight software to model the vehicle’s expected behavior before flight.”

If successful, the mission will see the Starliner dock with the ISS and stay there for about a week before coming down in the western United States.

The spaceship is the only one in existence to be capable of making a soft landing on the ground and not on water as space capsules have always made it back. Even if it botched the ISS link-up in 2019, the Starliner managed to touch down at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico using airbags.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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