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Scheduling conflicts at ISS delay Starliner unmanned demo flight till May

NASA and Boeing have been forced to again delay the second unmanned Starliner demo mission to ISS due to scheduling conflicts with Soyuz and Dragon missions in April, forcing the flight to slip to May.

A Russian Soyuz capsule is set for launch April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut. The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft will dock with the space station about three hours after launch, and an outgoing three-person crew will depart and return to Earth on April 17.

SpaceX’s next Crew Dragon flight to the space station is set for launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida around April 20 with astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet. Their mission, known as Crew-2, will last about six months.

The four astronauts who flew to the station last November on the Crew-1 mission — aboard the Crew Dragon “Resilience” spacecraft — will return to Earth in late April or early May. Both docking ports capable of receiving the Boeing Starliner capsule will be occupied during the crew handover in late April.

They had hoped to launch on April 2nd, but I suspect strongly that Boeing and NASA are glad to have this extra time.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

2 comments

  • Dick Eagleson

    This delay until May should render the current Sept. estimate for the CFT test of Starliner with crew a dead letter, though Boeing and NASA will likely be in no hurry to make that official. The Crew-3 mission on a Dragon 2 is now scheduled for Oct. which means there won’t be a free docking port until Nov., given overlap with Crew-2. As a practical matter, that most likely pushes the Starliner CFT into 2022, which I and others have long predicted. How far into 2022 will be determined by how many, if any, unchecked boxes there are on the test card after the unmanned test in May. Even if Starliner CFT manages to fly in Nov. or Dec., though, it seems likely that SpaceX will launch the Crew-4 mission before Boeing gets to a first post-certification mission with a full crew aboard.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Former Boeing chief Jim McNerny very publicly made a bet with Elon Musk, about whose rocket would carry the first people to Mars! Maybe he can beg off paying up because he’s out of a job?! Ironic how often rich guys win bets, huh?

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