Boeing CST-100 Starliner progresses towards second uncrewed flight

NASA and Boeing are making progress towards conducting the second uncrewed flight for the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. That second uncrewed flight has to happen before the Boeing spacecraft can take astronauts to the ISS as part of the NASA Commercial Crew Program. Currently, the target date for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 is no earlier than December 2020.

Hitting that date depends on hardware readiness, flight software qualification, and launch vehicle and space station manifest priorities. Boeing has spent the summer focus on getting the spacecraft ready for its upcoming flight test and making improvements identified during various review processes going back to the beginning of 2020.

Currently, Boeing teams are into the final assembly of crew service modules that will fly with Orbital Flight Test-2 to the space station. The mission will fly a new, reusable Starliner crew module that provides an additional in-orbit experience for the operational teams before flying missions with astronauts.

Pushing the spacecraft into orbit will be a United Lunch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Most of the spacecraft assembly is complete, and recently teams have been focusing on the NASA docking system re-entry cover. That component was added to the design for additional protection of the system.

The team has recently completed the installation of the propellant heater, thermal protection system tiles, and airbags used when the spacecraft touches down for landing. As activities progressed, the crew module recently entered acceptance testing. Teams are also working on the software, which is nearing the final stages of modification and re-verification after the first uncrewed flight test. Boeing has about 75 percent of the 80 proposed actions implemented that were recommended by the Independent Review Team.