Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2
Boeing
Starliner approaches the ISS
NamesBoe OFT-2
Mission typeTest flight
OperatorBoeing
COSPAR ID2022-055A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.52715Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration5 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftStarliner Spacecraft 2
ManufacturerBoeing
Launch mass13,000 kg (29,000 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date19 May 2022, 22:54:47 UTC
RocketAtlas V N22 (AV-082)
Launch siteCape Canaveral, SLC-41
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
End of mission
Landing date25 May 2022, 22:49 UTC
Landing siteWhite Sands Missile Range
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Inclination51.66°
Docking with ISS
Docking portHarmony forward
Docking date21 May 2022, 00:28 UTC
Undocking date25 May 2022, 18:36 UTC
Time docked4 days, 18 hours and 8 minutes
 
External image
image icon Boeing OFT-2 Mission Patch

The Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (also known as Boe OFT-2) was a repeat of Boeing's unsuccessful first Orbital Flight Test (OFT-1) of its Starliner spacecraft. The uncrewed mission was part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.[1] OFT-2, using Starliner Spacecraft 2, launched 19 May 2022 and lasted 6 days. Starliner successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on 21 May 2022. It stayed at the ISS for 4 days before undocking and landing in the White Sands Missile Range on 25 May 2022.[2]

Payload

The capsule carried approximately 245 kg (540 lb) of supplies and test equipment to simulate future missions with astronauts and their cargo on board.[3] Some of the cargo included flags from historically black colleges and universities and pins of Rosie the Riveter and 16 EMU water absorption pads.[4][5]

Starliner was loaded with 500 pounds of cargo to bring to the ISS–mostly food with some small EVA components. Astronauts unloaded this cargo and replaced it with 600 pounds of nitrogen-oxygen recharge tanks to take down. Once on the ground, the tanks were to be refurbished and then flown again.

Starliner again carried the Anthropomorphic Test Device (ATD) Rosie (aka "Rosie the Rocketeer") for its second flight. It also carried a plush toy of Kerbal Space Program character Jebediah Kerman as a zero-G indicator.[6]

Mission

The first flight of Starliner after the December 2019 OFT-1 flight failed to rendezvous with the station due to software problems. Boeing and NASA agreed on another uncrewed flight test of the spacecraft's systems. As part of the original fixed-price contract this flight was paid by Boeing, at an estimated out-of-pocket cost to Boeing of US$410 million.[7][8] The mission was planned to use the hardware, Starliner spacecraft, and Atlas V originally planned for use on the Boe-CFT crewed flight test.[9]

The second Atlas V N22, designated AV-082, launched the Starliner spacecraft on its second uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station. The capsule is intended to dock with the space station, then return to Earth to land in the Western United States after an orbital shakedown cruise ahead of Boeing Crewed Flight Test.[9]

OFT-2 is the second flight of an Atlas V without a payload fairing and with a dual-engine Centaur upper stage. The dual-engine Centaur uses two RL10s and is required for Starliner flights in order to provide a launch trajectory that allows a safe abort at any point in the mission.[10]

Boeing modified the design of the Starliner docking system after the OFT-1 flight, adding a hinged re-entry cover below the expendable nosecone for additional protection during the capsule's fiery descent through the atmosphere similar to the one used in the SpaceX Dragon 2 nosecone. This was tested on the OFT-2 mission.[11][12] This flight also marked the first time that NASA's docking system was used for docking by a commercial spacecraft, as Dragon’s docking system was designed by SpaceX themselves.[13]

Launch delays

Boeing CST-100 Starliner for OFT-2 Arrives at SLC-41
Boeing CST-100 Starliner for OFT-2 Arrives at SLC-41

On 9 December 2020, NASA and Boeing announced that 29 March 2021 was the targeted launch date for the OFT-2 mission.[14][11] On 16 December 2020, Boeing officials released the official mission patch for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.[15][16][17] On 18 January 2021, Boeing and NASA announced that they have re-certified Starliner's spacecraft software for the OFT-2 mission.[18][11] In February 2021, the launch date shifted to 25 March 2021, then 2 April 2021, then mid April 2021. During April 2021, the launch was scheduled for August/September 2021, with an exact date to be determined.[19] In May 2021, the launch was scheduled for 30 July 2021.

Prior to the OFT-2 launch attempt, the Crew Dragon Endeavour, which was docked to ISS at "Harmony" forward port for its Crew-2 mission, undocked at 10:45 UTC and relocated to "Harmony" zenith port on 21 July 2021, at 11:35 UTC.[20] The OFT-2 launch was scheduled for 30 July 2021 at 18:53:32 UTC.[21] On 27 July 2021, NASA, Boeing, and ULA completed the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for the mission.

On 29 July 2021, launch preparations were under way at Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 41. The Atlas V with the Starliner atop had just been rolled out from the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to the pad. In an entirely separate mission, the Nauka module had docked at the space station earlier that morning, but its thrusters misfired, causing serious anomalies that would make the OFT-2 docking impossible until they were corrected. The Atlas V was immediately rolled back to the VIF, and the launch time was delayed to 3 August 2021 at 17:20:18 UTC.

Valve failures, August 2021

Main article: Boeing Starliner Spacecraft 2 § Analysis of inoperable valves

On May 18, 2022, CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the ULA Atlas V rocket roll out from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad
On May 18, 2022, CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the ULA Atlas V rocket roll out from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad

Atlas V was rolled out again 2 August 2021. The 3 August launch attempt was scrubbed due to technical problems with the propulsion system on Starliner causing another 24 hours recycle, with launch planned for 4 August 2021 at 16:57 UTC.[22] Due to unexpected valve position indications in the Starliner propulsion system, the launch was further delayed to later in August while engineering teams investigated the problem. As a result, the Atlas V was rolled back to the VIF again for further testing.[23] On 13 August 2021, Boeing decided to return the spacecraft back to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility in order to perform a deeper-level troubleshooting of the thirteen propulsion system valves, causing the launch to be delayed for another year.[1] The time needed for analysis and correction of the problem forced the launch to be delayed until the launch complex was once again available in May 2022.[24]

Relaunch attempt

Starliner docked to ISS
Starliner docked to ISS

Main article: Boeing Starliner Spacecraft 2 § Modifications

After completing assembly of the rocket again at ULA's VIF, the launch took place on 19 May 2022 at 22:54 UTC, and completed the Orbital Insertion Burn at 31 minutes into the mission. During the Orbit Insertion Burn, two OMAC thrusters out of the twelve thrusters in the service module failed shortly after ignition, but Boeing says it does not pose a threat as on-board flight control system took over the situation and switched to backup thrusters to complete the burn successfully, and Starliner reached a good orbit.[25] 26 hours and 34 minutes after the beginning of the mission, Starliner achieved soft capture on its first docking attempt.[26] 20 minutes later, the spacecraft achieved hard capture. Docking took place after a delay of about one hour, due to a need to retract and re-extend the ring clamp on its NDS docking interface.[27] On 21 May at 16:04 UTC, the hatch was opened for the first time. On 24 May at 19:00 UTC the hatch was closed in preparation for departure. On 25 May at 18:36 UTC, Starliner undocked from the ISS and successfully landed in White Sands, New Mexico at 22:49 UTC.[28]

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Starliner Returning to Factory to Resolve Valve Issue" (Press release). Boeing. 13 August 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  2. ^ Clark, Stephen (22 June 2021). "Starliner capsule fueled for unpiloted test flight to International Space Station". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  3. ^ Graham, William (3 August 2021). "Atlas V's launch of Starliner OFT-2 test flight delayed". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  4. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (17 June 2021). "HBCU flags and 'Rosie' coins among Boeing Starliner OFT-2 cargo". Space.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  5. ^ Foust, Jeff (18 May 2022). "NASA puts ISS spacewalks on hold to investigate water leak". SpaceNews. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  6. ^ @BoeingSpace (21 May 2022). "@NASA_Astronauts open Starliner's hatch on @Space_Station for the first time and welcome #RosieTheRocketeer and Jebediah Kerman" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 23 May 2022 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Roulette, Joey (28 July 2021). "After years of turmoil, Boeing's starliner capsule is set for a do-over". The Verge. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022.
  8. ^ Foust, Jeff (6 April 2020). "Boeing to fly second Starliner uncrewed test flight". SpaceNews.
  9. ^ a b Burghardt, Thomas (7 July 2020). "NASA and Boeing Complete Starliner Orbital Flight Test Investigation". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  10. ^ Gebhardt, Chris (21 November 2019). "Starliner arrives at launch pad in major pre-flight milestone". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Clark, Stephen (18 January 2021). "Boeing making progress on Starliner software for test flight in March". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  12. ^ Clark, Stephen (25 August 2020). "Boeing plans second Starliner test flight in December 2020 or January 2021". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  13. ^ Sesnic, Trevor (11 May 2022). "Boeing, NASA teams give Starliner final go for OFT-2 mission". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
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  15. ^ "A significant symbol for Starliner: Program's newest flight test patch revealed" (Press release). Boeing. 16 December 2020. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  16. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (17 December 2020). "Boeing reveals mission patch for second Starliner orbital flight test". Space.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  17. ^ Hall, Zac (16 December 2020). "Boeing unveils "personal" OFT-2 mission patch ahead of next Starliner spacecraft orbital flight test". Space Explored. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
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  19. ^ "NASA and Boeing Targeting August/September for Starliner's Uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch" (Press release). Boeing. 17 April 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  20. ^ Potter, Sean (15 July 2021). "NASA TV to Air Crew Dragon Port Relocation on Space Station" (Press release). NASA. M21-082. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 16 July 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. ^ "Boeing and NASA Update Launch Target for Next Starliner Test Flight" (Press release). Boeing. 6 May 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  22. ^ "NASA-Boeing to Delay Starliner Launch" (Press release). Boeing. 3 August 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  23. ^ "ULA, Boeing Update Schedule To Move Starliner, Atlas V To Vertical Integration Facility" (Press release). Boeing. 4 August 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  24. ^ Sheetz, Michael (13 August 2021). "Boeing delays test flight of Starliner crew spacecraft for at least two months after valve problems". CNBC. Archived from the original on 17 May 2022. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Boeing's Starliner encounters propulsion problems on way to ISS". INQUIRER.net. Agence France-Presse. 20 May 2022. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022.
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  27. ^ Foust, Jeff (20 May 2022). "Starliner docks with ISS for the first time". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  28. ^ Potter, Sean (26 May 2022). "NASA, Boeing Complete Starliner Uncrewed Flight Test to Space Station" (Press release). NASA. 22-050. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 27 May 2022.