NASA and Boeing are now targeting July for the Starliner’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) as the teams work together to close out verification items and the agency manages a busy flight schedule to and from the International Space Station (ISS) during the next few months.
Representatives from NASA’s Commercial Crew and ISS programs announced the update at a media telecon Wednesday. While the Starliner spacecraft build is complete, additional time is needed to close out verification and validation work prior to the system’s first flight with crew on board.
“We are very proud of the work the team has done,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and Starliner program manager. “We understand the significance of this mission for both us and NASA. We will launch when we are ready and that includes at a time when the International Space Station can accept our vehicle.”
Meanwhile, the spacecraft’s integrated vehicle testing is going well. The crew module’s interior is in its flight configuration and cargo is loaded with the exception of late-stow items. Last week, NASA astronauts and CFT Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams, and backup pilot Mike Fincke, finished the second part of the Crew Equipment Interface Testing milestone. They maneuvered around the spacecraft getting hands-on experience with the tools and equipment they will use during the flight test.
Wilmore, Williams and Fincke will also conduct several simulations focused on the spacecraft’s backup manual flight mode for added redundancy in the event of an emergency. Fueling the spacecraft and loading updated software flight parameters ensuring alignment with the ISS will be conducted closer to launch.