Agence France-PresseMay 7, 2021 10:28:43 AMT
NASA and Boeing are now aiming for an aerospace industry company’s troubled Starliner capsule on a crowded test flight at the International Space Station on July 30, they announced Thursday. The launch has been postponed several times, and the last reported day in April broke down due to a cold snap that caused major power outages in Texas in March. NASA’s commercial crew program is being implemented in part from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, although it will be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The ascent is now scheduled to take place on July 30 at 14.53 Eastern Time (1853 GMT).
“NASA and Boeing have done an incredible amount of work to get to this point,” said Steve Stich, director of the Commercial Crew program.
Starliner’s first crew flight is expected to follow thereafter in September at the earliest.
During the initial test flight in December 2019, the Starliner capsule did not dock in the ISS and returned to Earth prematurely.
NASA later identified 80 corrective actions that Boeing needed to take and characterized the test as a “high-visibility local call” during which the spacecraft could have been lost twice.
Boeing has fallen far short of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a NASA-selected company that is developing a ship to transport astronauts to the ISS.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule has now taken three astronaut personnel to the ISS – the last being Operation Crew-2, which included the first European Thomas Pesquet last month.
NASA provided billions of dollars to both companies to restore American capability to launch astronauts after the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
In 2011-2020, when SpaceX carried its first crew, the United States remained dependent on Russian Soyuz rockets as it orbited.