The first astronaut launch aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft won’t happen for a little time.
According to NASA officials, the first Starliner crewed test flight will now take place no earlier than mid-April 2024. The alteration was not explained. According to agency officials, the goal date for the Boeing spaceship’s first operational flight has been pushed back from summer 2024 to early 2025.
Early March 2024 was formerly stated as the target date for Starliner’s Crew Flight Test (CFT), or first astronaut flight. That wasn’t a set launch date; it was only a predicted spacecraft readiness date.
Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, two NASA astronauts, will travel to and from the International Space Station (ISS) on a shakeout mission with CFT. Due to several technical issues, the mission has had numerous delays, delaying its liftoff repeatedly.
For instance, CFT was supposed to fly in July of this year, but that plan was cancelled when teams found problems with Starliner’s wiring and parachute system.
In September 2014, NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to deliver astronaut flights to and from the ISS, awarding each business multibillion-dollar contracts. On August 25, SpaceX’s seventh operational flight to the ISS took off, but Starliner has only launched twice and neither time with passengers on board.
Starliner’s first mission, known as Orbital Flight Test (OFT), had a number of issues and did not reach the ISS as expected shortly after launch in December 2019. OFT-2, the succeeding mission, reached the ISS and returned to Earth in May 2022.
The Crew-8 mission’s mid-February 2024 launch target date was also confirmed in a NASA news release on Thursday. Four members of Crew-8 have already been given their names. They are commander Matthew Dominick, pilot Michael Barratt, mission specialist Jeanette Epps, and cosmonaut and mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin from NASA.
Then, in August 2024, just before Crew-8 makes its way back to Earth, SpaceX would launch the Crew-9 mission. According to NASA officials, a tenth “crew rotation mission” is anticipated for early 2025; it may be either SpaceX’s Crew-10 mission or Boeing’s Starliner-1, the company’s first operational crewed flight to the ISS.
The summer of 2024 had been targeted by Boeing and NASA for the Starliner-1. The planned date has now been postponed, according to NASA officials, to give more time to analyse CFT results, which will include “incorporation of anticipated learning, approvals of final certification products and completion of readiness and certification reviews ahead of that [Starliner-1] mission.”
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