Space: Boeing tries a second time to fly to the ISS economy

One thing is clear: Boeing’s capsule is missing the Apollo moment. As the Space-X Crew Dragon lands in the sea after returning from the ISS space station, as the Apollo capsules did after lunar missions, the Boeing Group Starliner descends into a desert in the western United States. United. This in turn is reminiscent of Russian Soyuz spacecraft when they land in the Kazakh steppe.

Boeing is trying again this Friday to use its capsule to reach the ISS. The first test flight failed in December 2019 because the unoccupied Starliner could not be steered onto a runway to the ISS after take-off due to software and communication issues. An independent commission of experts then identified around 80 points to address issues that Boeing and NASA had been working on over the past 18 months. “We’re ready to go,” NASA ISS director Joel Montalbano said this week after countless simulation flights. Boeing vice chairman John Vollmer was optimistic: “We could have probably started with a crew,” he said, the only thing missing was oxygen. Boeing had agreed to pay for the second test attempt itself.

The Starliner capsule, which can otherwise carry four space travelers, has only one dummy named Rosie the Rocketeer and 215 kilograms of cargo on board during the second test flight. It is scheduled to take off at 2:53 p.m. EST from Launch Pad 41 of the Cape Canaveral / Florida space station with an Atlas V rocket from the United Launch Alliance (Boeing, Lockheed) and dock to the ISS for the first time. hour on Saturday.

Space-X supports Boeing in this area. For example, astronauts moved the Space-X crew capsule, which has been in space since April, last week to free up an easier-to-navigate docking station. For the first time, two different American crew capsules would be docked to the ISS at the same time. “It’s very important for the commercial occupation program to have two space transportation systems,” NASA director Steve Stich told reporters.

Open detailed view

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is scheduled to take off on Friday for the ISS space station without astronauts.

(Photo: Gregg Newton / AFP)

NASA and Boeing also want to test the communication system between the capsule and the space station, on which there are currently seven astronauts. Boeing chief Vollmer said some systems could only be fully tested under in-orbit conditions. In view of the delays, it is now “extremely important that we succeed in this flight”. The return is scheduled for August 5 in New Mexico. The capsule brings about 260 kilograms of cargo to earth, including material that has been used for science experiments.

Again, however, the weather is unpredictable. According to NASA, there is only a 40 percent chance that the weather conditions will allow a start. Alternative dates are August 3 and 4 and July 31, subject to change.

If all goes well this time around, Boeing could possibly begin its regular astronaut flights to the ISS next winter – initially with three NASA astronauts. Boeing currently has two airworthy Starliners, each licensed to fly ten times. In addition to Space-X, the group emerged victorious from a call for tenders from the space agency Nasa, which, after the shutdown of the space shuttle ten years ago, was looking for ways to regain its own access to it. ‘space. Generations of astronauts had to travel to the Russian Soyuz’s space station. Since May of last year, Space-X has already flown three crews there, including a test flight. NASA has invested about $ 8.4 billion to be able to leave from Florida. According to NASA, a seat at Space-X costs around $ 55 million, and Boeing $ 90 million.

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