Boeing Starliner Spaceship Targets Extended Stay in Orbit

The first uncrewed test flight for the Boeing Starliner capsule is still several months away, having been delayed recently on account of either safety concerns raised by the American Space Agency or "limited launch opportunities in April and May," depending on the source. But that doesn’t stop the company from planning in advance.
Boeing Starliner at spacecraft test facilities in El Segundo, California 1 photo
Photo: Boeing
In a joint statement released at the end of last week, NASA and Boeing said they have agreed to significantly increase the first crewed flight’s mission duration.

When it launches with people on board, hopefully by the end of the year, the Starliner will head for the International Space Station (ISS) and stay there for an “extended duration.”

The organizations did not say what that actually means, but usually spacecraft reaching the ISS end up spending months attached to the station. As an exception, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spent only a few days in space in March.

The long stay in orbit for the Starliner is needed to “complete additional microgravity research, maintenance, and other activities,” says NASA.

But before that happens, Boeing and its spaceship will have to make it through a pad abort test and an uncrewed test flight now scheduled for August.

The Starliner has a diameter of 4.56 meters (15.0 ft) and will be compatible for launch on top a wider range of launch rockets, including SpaceX’s Falcon, the Atlas V, Delta IV, and the future Vulcan. It can accommodate a crew of up to seven astronauts, reduced to four if the capsule is carrying cargo as well.

Just as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the Starliner is reusable, having been built to be launched and landed ten times before replacing. The Starliner is the first ever capsule to be capable of landing on solid ground, thanks to the use of an airbag landing system in addition to the parachutes.
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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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