- Boeing announced Monday that it would conduct a second Orbital Flight Test with its Starliner spacecraft.
- Starliner's December 20 Orbital Flight Test ended in failure after a series of software errors prevented the spacecraft from reaching proper orbit.
- The second Orbital Flight Test will be conducted in October or November, per The Washington Post.
Boeing tweeted April 6 that it would hold a second Orbital Flight Test for its Starliner spacecraft, which, due to software errors, failed an uncrewed flight test last year. The Washington Post reported Monday that the next test flight is scheduled to launch in October or November. The company followed up with the tweet and a statement confirming the flight.
"We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system," the company said in a statement. "Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer"
We’ve decided to fly a second Orbital Flight Test because we are committed to the safety of those who design, build and ultimately will fly on #Starliner.— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) April 6, 2020
Read the full statement here: https://t.co/8McPBzJgZO pic.twitter.com/JWc6oonPaF
In December, Boeing’s Starliner CST-100 suffered an anomaly during its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test which that prevented it from reaching the proper orbit. In the aftermath of that failed test flight, NASA and Boeing formed a joint investigation team to figure out what went wrong.
In February, the team revealed that a series of critical software errors were responsible for the anomalies. First, a timer error prevented the spacecraft's thrusters from firing in order to reach the proper orbit. In addition to the timer error, a second software error was found during the review. The second error would have resulted in a misfire of the service module's thrusters upon reentry, causing the service module to bump into the crew module, which could have endangered the crew had there been one on the flight.
“We do think that the [Orbital Flight Test] flight had a lot of anomalies,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a February 7 call with reporters. Officials from NASA and Boeing stated that they would need a rigorous series of tests and more time to correct the software issues, Spaceflight.com reported.
Both Boeing and SpaceX are working in partnership with NASA to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station aboard American-made rockets for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011.
Currently, NASA sends its astronauts to the space station aboard Russia’s Soyuz rockets. The tickets aren’t cheap—a spot on the Soyuz costs the agency over 80 million per head per ride. Both Boeing and SpaceX have experienced significant delays.
In May, SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Demo-2 mission, the company's first crewed test flight of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, which will lift astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Benhken to the ISS.
We will update this article as more information about this second flight test becomes available.
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