NASA is getting ready to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).
The launch was supposed to take place on Friday, July 30, but an unexpected incident at the ISS the day before prompted NASA to delay the launch until Tuesday, August 3. Digital Trends has all the information you need to watch a livestream of the mission, including lift-off and docking.
The uncrewed test mission is crucial for NASA and Boeing as it marks the second attempt at getting Starliner into orbit following a failed effort in December 2019.
An investigation found that a slew of software issues prevented Starliner from following the planned route to the ISS. NASA and Boeing have now fixed these in preparation for Tuesday’s highly anticipated mission.
Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying with it various supplies for the seven astronauts currently living and working aboard the orbiting outpost. NASA recently posted a short video (below) showing the spacecraft being placed atop the rocket ahead of launch.
After a brief five-day stay at the station, Boeing’s spacecraft will undock and return to Earth for a parachute-assisted landing in the New Mexico desert.
Assuming the mission goes according to plan, NASA and Boeing will then assess all of the data from Starliner’s flight to confirm all of the fixes worked and that the spacecraft functioned as expected.
Once it gets final clearance, Starliner will fly a crew of three astronauts to the space station in a mission that could take place toward the end of this year or in early 2022. The three crew members are expected to stay at the ISS for up to four months before returning to Earth in Starliner.
The capsule is designed to be reused up to 10 times with a turnaround time of about six months, while the service module that provides propulsion in orbit will be new for each mission. Boeing is planning to have a pair of capsules in service at any one time, rotating between the two vehicles for missions.
Getting Starliner up and running will give NASA more options when it comes to launching astronauts from U.S. soil. It currently uses SpaceX, which achieved its first astronaut launch using its Crew Dragon capsule in the summer of 2020, with two additional crewed launches having taken place since then.