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Crewed Starliner Mission to Be Flown With Just Two Astronauts, NASA Plays It Safe

Back in May 2022, after a couple of years of delays caused by technical issues during the first and second launches, the Boeing Starliner spaceship finally managed to reach the International Space Station (ISS), dock with it, and then safely return back to Earth.
Boeing Starliner and the astronaut's who'll fly it 11 photos
Boeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch padBoeing Starliner on its way to the launch pad
The flight, uncrewed, was not without problems, as the Starliner reached its destination in orbit limping, with two of its twelve thrusters not working, glitches to the temperature control system, and issues with the docking mechanism.

Despite all of the above, NASA and Boeing declared the mission a success, and are now getting ready for the first crewed flight of the spaceship. It will depart on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at a yet undetermined date (likely at the end of the year) and will carry with it two astronaut test pilots.

Called CFT (Crew Flight Test), the mission will be commanded by Barry “Butch” Wilmore, who was supposed to be on board the first crewed flight back in 2020, when it was originally scheduled. He will be accompanied by pilot Suni Williams.

Two more people are preparing for rides up with the Starliner as well. Mike Fincke, who was also supposed to be on the CFT, is now training as backup and will fly on future missions. Another astronaut, Jeanette Epps, is getting ready “for an upcoming long duration mission aboard Starliner-1.”

Until that time arrives, the crew of the CFT is scheduled to stay on the ISS for two weeks, more than enough time for the Starliner to meet its test objectives.

The American space agency does say though that in order to “protect against unforeseen events with crew transportation to the station” the stay could be extended to as much as six months.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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