Starliner is ‘go’ for May 19 launch to space station
NASA has cleared Boeing’s Starliner capsule for a planned May 19 launch on Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), a crucial uncrewed mission to the International Space Station.
The decision came after a lengthy flight readiness review on Wednesday (May 11). Read more here.
OFT-2 was originally supposed to launch in August 2021, but technicians discovered that 13 of the 24 oxidizer valves in the capsule’s propulsion system were stuck. Diagnosing and troubleshooting this issue ended taking about eight months.
Starliner will return to the factory for troubleshooting
We’ve determined #Starliner will return to our factory for deeper-level troubleshooting of four propulsion system valves. With @NASA, we’ve decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions.More: https://t.co/oycWeRz156 pic.twitter.com/UzCZN66451August 13, 2021
Boeing’s Starliner is heading back to the processing facility for additional checks, and the OFT-2 mission is still delayed indefinitely.
“We’ve determined #Starliner will return to our factory for deeper-level troubleshooting of four propulsion system valves. With @NASA, we’ve decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions,” Boeing tweeted today. You can read the full update from Boeing here.
Starliner OFT-2 update coming today
NASA and Boeing are holding a news conference today at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) to discuss the latest delays of the Starliner OFT-2 mission. You can listen to the teleconference live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA.
Read more: Stuck valves on Boeing’s Starliner keep critical space station test flight on hold
Back inside for Starliner
The @ULALaunch Atlas V rocket with the Starliner spacecraft on top has returned to the Vertical Integration Facility. @BoeingSpace will now power up Starliner, allowing the vehicle to receive commands and providing the teams with real-time data: https://t.co/JpWB0LKHxQ pic.twitter.com/Dk3nZSSirYAugust 5, 2021
Boeing’s Starliner atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket has rolled back into the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to allow technicians to continue troubleshooting a glitch that interfered with Tuesday’s scheduled launch. Read more.
Boeing postpones launch indefinitely
We’re not proceeding with #Starliner launch tomorrow. Our team cycled the Service Module propulsion system valves and is taking time to gather data for next steps. We’ve ruled out software as a cause for the unexpected position indications.More: https://t.co/2fCrIY7uc8 pic.twitter.com/8dvlfpAOneAugust 4, 2021
Boeing has decided to step back from the Wednesday (Aug. 4) launch target for Starliner after finding a valve in the propulsion system in an improper position and not being able to quickly identify the cause of the anomaly.
“We’re going to let the data lead our work,” John Vollmer, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement. “Our team has worked diligently to ensure the safety and success of this mission, and we will not launch until our vehicle is performing nominally and our teams are confident it is ready to fly.”
Read our story about the indefinite launch delay here.
Launch is scrubbed
Countdown enters planned hold
Starliner’s Atlas V rocket has just entered a planned four-hour hold at T-minus four minutes before launch, United Launch Alliance reports on Twitter. The lengthy hold is to simulate the procedures before an astronaut crew enters the spacecraft. While that’s not happening today (this launch is an uncrewed test), ULA says it plans to simulate crew ingress procedures during Orbital Test Flight-2.
Launch forecast at 50 percent
United Launch Alliance reports that the weather forecast stands at 50-50 for the time of the Atlas V launch with Boeing’s Starliner on board, at 1:20 p.m. EDT (1720 GMT). That said, the current weather has “no threat of lightning for the Blue Team’s entrance into the launch pad and for their work” at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, ULA said on Twitter.
United Launch Alliance sent a Twitter update informing that the fuelling of the Atlas V rocket is complete. The company says the rocket is so far on track to launch on time at 1:20 p.m. EDT (1720 GMT), although of course that will also depend on weather.
Launch preparations continue
Filling of the #AtlasV first stage with 48,800 gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen is underway. The LOX will be consumed with the RP-1 kerosene loaded into the rocket after rollout yesterday to power the main engine. pic.twitter.com/egAk3LbKOrAugust 3, 2021
Launch is coming soon! United Launch Alliance personnel are busy filling the rocket’s first stage with fuel about 5 hours before lift-off.
NASA astronauts are excited for the launch
NASA astronauts can’t wait to see Starliner fly today. The mission marks a crucial milestone before they and their colleagues will be able to give the capsule a spin for themselves. Read more.
Atlas V and Starliner are “now in launch position”
The Atlas V rocket and Starliner spacecraft returned to the launch pad early this morning after waiting out the launch delay inside the Vertical Integration Facility. See photos of their second rollout here.
“Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is now in launch position on Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida,” Boeing said in an update. “The Starliner, which is mated to the top of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, rolled to the launch pad on train tracks at a speed of about 1 mph from the Vertical Integration Facility, located about 1 mile from the launch site.”
You can preview the OFT-2 mission in a new video animation below:
Back out to the pad!
We’re rolling to the pad for #Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test-2! Our team along with @ulalaunch and the #AtlasV that will boost Starliner into orbit are rolling the rocket and spacecraft to the launch pad on Space Launch Complex-41 this morning ahead of tomorrow’s launch. pic.twitter.com/vp7k84ER0TAugust 2, 2021
After spending the weekend inside in case of bad weather, Starliner and its Atlas V rocket are now headed back out to the launch pad in preparation for tomorrow’s flight.
Weather forecast: 60% go for launch
Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron are now predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather for liftoff on Tuesday.
“The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus cloud rule, lightning rule and thick cloud rule violations during the instantaneous launch window,” NASA officials wrote in an update.
🚀🌟 In two days, @BoeingSpace’s Starliner spacecraft will launch to the @Space_Station! Weather is currently 60% “GO” for liftoff.Starliner is scheduled to dock to the orbiting laboratory on Wednesday, Aug. 4 at about 1:37 p.m. ET: https://t.co/4u8v2sU0Ij pic.twitter.com/GRnfa5RECzAugust 1, 2021
Forecasting launch day’s weather
Will bad weather interfere with Tuesday’s launch? Maybe, or the rocket could blast off before the storms roll in. Read more.
OFT-2 in pictures
While we wait out the launch delay, check out the full story of OFT-2 in photos with this gallery.
Starliner heads back inside
With launch delayed to no earlier than Tuesday (Aug. 3) and bad weather expected to hit the Space Coast, the Starliner capsule and its Atlas V rocket headed off the launch pad for shelter. Read more here.
New launch date announced
NASA officials announced during a news conference that Starliner will now target launch on Tuesday (Aug. 3) at 1:20 p.m. EDT (1720 GMT). If that launch date holds, the capsule will arrive at the International Space Station on Wednesday (Aug. 4). Read more.
Starliner launch delayed
NASA and Boeing have delayed Friday’s planned launch of the uncrewed Starliner OFT-2 mission and are establishing a new launch date, according to a NASA statement. The delay comes after Russia’s Nauka module briefly tilted the International Space Station by firing its thrusters in an unplanned maneuver that you can read about here.
We’ll update with a new launch date as soon as possible.
“Success in spaceflight is achieved by millions of elements coming together and working in perfect harmony,” Boeing officials wrote in a statement about the delay. “That’s the nature of our business, and that requires patience. We stand ready to launch the CST-100 Starliner when the time is right, as we support NASA on the International Space Station.”
Starliner and Atlas V roll out
ULA’s 172-foot (52 meters) Atlas V rocket, with Starliner secured on top, left the Vertical Integration Facility today (July 29) and rolled out to its launch pad, Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Read our rollout story here.
What’s the big deal with this launch? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out a deep dive on Boeing’s bumpy ride to the launchpad and brush up on every aspect of the mission, from what’s on board to what comes next.
Starliner spends one more night at the VIF
Boeing just shared a new photo of its Starliner spacecraft inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as the Atlas V rocket awaits its delayed rollout to the launchpad, now scheduled for 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) tomorrow (Thursday, July 29).
“Storms rolled in, so Starliner didnt roll out,” Boeing tweeted today. “#Starliner and #AtlasV are safe in the @ulalaunch Vertical Integration Facility and ready to roll tomorrow morning.”
Atlas V rocket rollout delayed
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Boeing had originally planned to transport the Atlas V rocket for the OFT-2 mission to the launchpad this morning, but the rollout has been postponed until Thursday (July 29), beginning at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT).
“The delay is due to an internet service provider outage that could not be resolved before the onset of predicted weather exceeding operational constraints. The OFT-2 launch, planned for Friday, July 30, at 2:53 p.m. EDT, remains on track,” NASA officials wrote in a blog post.
Speaking of weather, currently the forecast is looking only 40% favorable for Starliner’s planned launch on Saturday. “At this time, the probability of violation remains at 60%, with the primary concerns being the Cumulus Cloud, Surface Electric Fields, and Lightning Rules,” the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron said in the latest weather update.
Boeing’s plan for the flight
Catch up on the plan for Starliner’s second uncrewed launch with this video from Boeing.
Starliner OFT-2 prelaunch briefing starts now!
NASA and Boeing are about to begin today’s prelaunch news conference for the Starliner OFT-2 mission. The briefing begins at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), and you can watch that live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
Launch weather update
The launch weather forecast for Friday’s planned launch of the Starliner OFT-2 mission currently predicts only a 40% chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff, according to an update from the U.S. Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45 Weather Squadron.
NASA and Boeing officials will hold a prelaunch news conference for OFT-2 tomorrow (July 27) at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). You can watch that live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
The CST-100 Starliner capsule has passed its flight readiness review (FRR) for the upcoming liftoff, which will kick off the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission to the station, NASA and Boeing representatives announced today (July 22). Read the full story here.
Over the weekend, engineers mated the Starliner spacecraft to its Atlas V rocket, marking a key milestone ahead of the mission’s launch next week. See the photos here.