Starliner Capsule From Boeing has Returned to the Launch Pad

In preparation for their scheduled liftoff on Saturday, June 1, Starliner and its rocket vehicle, an Atlas V from United Launch Alliance (ULA), rolled out to the pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station today, May 30.

At 12:25 p.m. EDT (16:25 GMT), that launch will begin the Crew Flight Test (CFT), Starliner’s and the venerable Atlas V’s first-ever human mission.

It was the Starliner-Atlas V stack’s second trip to the pad in less than a month. Before the launch on May 6, the two traveled there for the first time on May 4.

However, roughly two hours prior to liftoff, team members discovered a malfunctioning valve in the Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage, which forced them to scrap that attempt. When ULA made the decision to change the valve, the rocket had to be rolled off the pad and back into a nearby assembly facility.

The planned launch of CFT was delayed until May 17 due to that process. However, the date was moved even farther to the right when one of the reaction-control thrusters in the service module of Starliner was found to have a small helium leak.

Following a flight readiness review on Wednesday, May 29, Boeing, NASA, and ULA finally concluded that the helium leak represents a minor problem and cleared CFT for its June 1 liftoff.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will spend roughly seven days on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of their mission. With luck, Starliner will receive certification to carry out operational, six-month crewed flights to and from NASA’s orbiting laboratory.

Both SpaceX and Boeing are under contract to achieve precisely that. Now in the midst of its eighth operational crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Elon Musk’s business is demonstrating CFT with a flight known as Demo-2 in 2020.

This will be Starliner’s third liftoff ever. The capsule was initially launched in December 2019 on an unsuccessful unmanned test mission to the International Space Station (ISS). On its second attempt, Starliner made it to the orbiting lab unmanned in May 2022.

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