Boeing to do second unmanned test flight of Starliner

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Capitalism in space: Boeing officials said yesterday that they now plan a second unmanned demo mission to ISS of their Starliner manned capsule in order to make sure they have cleared up all the issues that plagued the first unmanned flight in December.

The company on Monday confirmed a report in the Washington Post that it will fly a second uncrewed demonstration mission — which Boeing calls an Orbital Flight Test — before astronauts ride a Starliner into orbit.

“We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system,” Boeing said in a statement Monay. “Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer. We will then proceed to the tremendous responsibility and privilege of flying astronauts to the International Space Station.”

Right now they are aiming for an October/November launch date.



  • Richard M

    Should have a been a no-brainer, obviously.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I like this decision. I think they realize they need to take a few extra steps to inspire the proper confidence in their product.

  • Captain Emeritus

    Good idea.
    Now, get rid of those Russian motors and the bottle rocket boosters.

  • Rose

    Captain Emeritus, Uncle Tony (with help from cousin Jeff) is working hard to grant your first wish, but is doubling down on your second concern. The September (though the Wuhan bat plague may postpone it as it has with other Space Force launches) launch of NROL-101 will be the debut use of the GEM-63 on the Atlas V, in advance of the GEM-63XL’s use on the Vulcan.

  • Richard M

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Atlas V performed flawlessly (as it always does) on the test flight. It was Boeing’s Starliner that was the trainwreck.

    I’m also not a fan of Vulcan’s expendability or use of undank (however upgraded) solids. But I have to say, the new stats on the Centaur V upper stage are just amazing. It’s a beast — lots of prop, decent thrust, and incredible longevity. A fair bit of what was supposed to be in ACES but not in Centaur V looks like it may now be included in the base Centaur V –hydrolox thrusters pulling from the main tanks for single fluid operation with no hypergols, and a multi-month mission kit capability. Seems it’s just a refueling port shy of being a truly incredible space tug.

    Even if Vulcan can’t stay competitive enough to survive past the late 2020’s, Centaur V could end up having a highly productive life as an ACES tug into the 2030’s and beyond.

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