The Boeing Staringer spacecraft is preparing for two major flight tests before the end of the year that will pave the way for the first spacecraft flight crew in 2020. The capsule is being developed under NASA's Commercial Vehicle Crew Program services to and from the International Space Station.
NASA provided an official update of the Boeing flight test dates last Friday. The Starliner subscription test is currently scheduled for no earlier than November 2, with the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) appearing no earlier than December 17.
The pad interruption test will indicate that the Starliner capsule fulfills the interruption sequence that would be necessary if the
November abortion test were performed from a White Sand missile test booth in New Mexico.
During the flight, Starliner will be tasked with executing
The flight will start with the four primary spaceship interrupt engines that pull the vehicle away from the pad. During the ascent, smaller pushers will be used to control the position
After approximately four seconds and a half of burn time, the four interrupt motors will shut down.
Once near apogee, the position control system will turn the Starliner around and drug parachutes will be positioned. The deployment of the three primary parachutes will follow shortly thereafter.
The Starliner service module will be discarded – leaving only the crew module to complete the remainder of the test.
Then there will be the heat release of the crew shield module. This step is necessary to make way for the air bags to inflate. Starliner airbags are used to limit impact when pressed.
If successful, the test will end with a soft landing in the New Mexico desert – demonstrating a critical Starliner safety system.
The capsule stopping system is also capable of performing an emergency maneuver while lifting into space from a launch vehicle – a significant improvement over the space shuttle, which had very limited interrupting capabilities.
If the swab withdrawal test goes to plan, the next major element on the Starliner plate will be the Orbital Flight Test (OFT). OFT is Starliner's undeveloped demonstration mission to the International Space Station.
The mission will be the first time the Starliner has been launched into orbit.
Like all its missions at the moment, Starliner will be launched over the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket during OFT flight .
The launch will occur from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida
Atlas V in N22 configuration will be used for Starliner missions. N stands for "No Fairing", the first 2 represent the number of solid rocket boosters, and the last 2 indicate that the Atlas will fly the upper stage with a twin-engine Centaur.
While the two Centaur two-stage engines have flown in space many times in the past, this will be the first time a person has flown an Atlas V. rocket.
The single-engine centaur configuration does not provide adequate thrust to fly the required flight profile for Starliner . Subsequently, an additional RL10 engine
One particularly unusual aspect of Starliner missions is that the spacecraft will be placed in a suborbital trajectory by the Atlas V rather than being placed directly into orbit.
'The United Launch Alliance is moving along a very unique trajectory, especially for Starliner. The booster flies both a flatter trajectory and lower thrust than the non-stretched Atlas V missions to limit crew members' G load and allow interruption during all phases of a power climb to orbit, "a spokesman said by Boeing.
"This is also the reason why the twin-engine Centaur upper stage is used in Starliner flights. While the Centaur will push the Starliner most of the way to orbit, the unique flight path necessitates the need for an orbital maneuvering and control system for Starliner's position to perform orbital firing to stabilize the orbit and place in a trajectory on a rendezvous with the International Space Station. ”
During the ascent, the Atlas V Emergency Detection System (EDS) will closely monitor the operation of the rocket. If something goes wrong during crew flight, the system is able to command an abortion if necessary. However, the EDS system will be in passive mode during OFT flight – meaning it will not be able to have an abortion during the test mission.
This is to ensure that the EDS system does not interfere with other aspects of the mission if it is to be activated incorrectly. Once the EDS is validated during the OFT withdrawal, it will be ready for active use in future crew flights.
Once Starliner reaches orbit during OFT, it will then attempt its first docking with the International Space Station. The spacecraft will stay at the station for a few days before it unlocks and returns to Earth. Boeing has not officially confirmed the preferred landing spot for the OFT mission, but the capsule is likely to appear either on the landing of the U.S. Army Dugway Proof of Utah land or the White Sands missile range in New Mexico.
The Starliner is designed to be able to point to multiple landing points in the event of inclement weather in any of the locations.  Landing on land instead of ocean, Starliner avoids the corrosive salt water environment – aiding its re-use. The capsules are designed to fly up to 10 times.
While the OFT mission is currently scheduled for no earlier than December 17, there are still several important milestones before launch can occur.
"Boeing, NASA and United Launch Alliance teams will conduct a full Integrated Launch Test (IDOLT) day prior to the orbital flight test. The event will include all preliminary activities similar to what will happen on the actual launch day, including refueling, swab operations and full countdown to T-0, "said a Boeing spokesman.
The Flight Readiness Preview (FRR) is also expected to determine if everything will continue to continue the OFT mission.
One major highlight of the flight was on Wednesday, with Starliner command and service modules for the mission of OFTs were organized together.
If we accept, is everything goes according to plan with the board failure test and OFT, Crew Flight Test (CFT) will be the last test flight before Starliner is certified for regular crew rotation missions.
The CFT will be demonstrated crew mission. Space Station – Three crew members will participate in the flight, NASA astronauts Michael Fink and Nicole Mann, along with Boeing test pilot Christopher Ferguson. ] #Starliner pic.twitter.com/YxgXBJMSmo
– Christopher Ferguson (@Astro_Ferg) August 21, 2019
The CFT flight was originally scheduled to include a two-week Space Station stay. The duration was later extended to be a full-crew rotation mission to account for delays with the Sales Team Program.
Thus, the CFT mission will continue for several months.
If all goes well with the upcoming
During the operational missions of the crew, which will begin after the CFT, Starliner will be able to transport to the Space Station up to four crew members.  Meanwhile, NASA continues to rely on the Russian rocket and the Soyuz spacecraft to transport its astronauts to the orbital laboratory. That came at a price: Russia charges NASA $ 85 million on site.
NASA is expected to purchase a final Union seat while waiting for its online commercial crews program to appear.