NASA, on September 30, announced the selection of two astronauts who will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on Boeing’s first licensed flight. The astronauts selected for the Starliner-1 are Scott Tinge, Edward Michael Fincke and Jeanette Epps who will serve as mission commander, mission pilot and mission specialist, respectively.
According to NASA, the Starliner spacecraft to be used for this flight will carry four astronauts and the fourth astronaut will be selected after review and approval by the agency and its international partners. Notably, the launch of the mission depends on the success of Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission which is targeted for lift-off no earlier than early February 2023.
“Starliner-1 will launch following the successful completion of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), which aims to demonstrate Starliner’s ability to achieve NASA certification and safely fly regular crewed missions to space station”, the agency’s official statement read. “After a successful CFT mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for future crewed missions to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program”, it added.
#Starliner’s first crewed flight test will take @NASA_Astronauts and test pilots Barry “Butch” Wilmore and @Astro_Suni Williams to @Space_Station. Wilmore and Williams continue to train as our teams target early next year for launch.
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) August 25, 2022
The CFT mission will follow Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) which launched on May 20 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It was to demonstrate the Starliner CST-100’s end-to-end capabilities that encompass every major and minor factor from launch to docking at the ISS and finally landing on Earth.
Following the mission, data reviews revealed that all of Starliner’s subsystems for environmental control and life support, landing, power, guidance navigation and control, docking and ascent abort emergency detection system, and atmospheric entry performed satisfactorily.
About Boeing’s next mission
Before the Starliner-1 mission lifts off, Boeing will have to win NASA’s permit to carry out resupply missions to the space station with the CFT mission. Under this, two astronauts– Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams will board the refurbished Starliner capsule and spend eight days in space after launching on the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral.
“The Starliner team has done an excellent job throughout the refurbishment process of incorporating all the learning from our uncrewed orbital test flight,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program said. “We expect to do even more learning on our next flight with astronauts to set Starliner up for certification and future operational missions.” (Republic Bharat)