Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner has been allowed to leave the International Space Station, paving the way for the final act in this comprehensive demonstration of the system. You can watch all the action live here.
The Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is quickly coming to an end. The six-day mission began on Friday, On May 19, an unmanned Starliner rocket was launched over a ULA Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft was able to reach its correct orbit Despite some payment glitchesAnd Enable him to dock at the space station The next day. Docking tests are complete and Now it’s time for Starliner to go home.
The spacecraft is scheduled to separate from the Harmony module at 2:36 p.m. (all times east) and perform a parachute-assisted landing at approximately 6:49 p.m., and NASA will provide full coverage of these return activities beginning at 2:00 p.m. Broadcasting will pause briefly once the Starliner is fully completed to leave the International Space Station, but will resume at 5:45 p.m. to cover atmospheric re-entry and landing in the western United States. Live webcasting will be available at NASA TVAnd Boeing.’s websiteAnd Youtubeand in the live broadcast shown below.
The unmanned Starliner is set to land near White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Mission operators will check the weather at the landing site about one hour before the ISS is disembarked and then conduct a “go/no go” reconnaissance 45 minutes before disembarkation. The team will try again on Friday in the event of some kind of delay.
Here’s how the final phase of OFT-2 will unfold, according to the mission Profile personly:
When allowed to leave the space station, Starliner unlocks it, performs a flight maneuver, and positions itself to burn deorbit to slow orbital velocity in preparation for atmospheric re-entry, where it is confronted with return heating of 3,000°F (1650°C). Starliner will scrap the frontal heat shield about 30,000 feet (9 km) above the ground, followed by deploying a series of parachutes. First, two rotating parachutes continue to slow the Starliner, followed by extracting the three main parachutes. at an altitude of 3000 feet [914 meters] From the ground, the airbags inflate to absorb more of the initial landing forces, relieving the crew for a smooth, safe return to the ground.
In fact, unlike SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which performs an ocean landing, Boeing’s Starliner is landing an airbag in the desert. Crew Dragon has been rated since 2020, but OFT-2, if all goes well, will move the program further in that direction. The Boeing CST-100 Starliner, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, was delayed due to two previous failed test attempts, one in 2019 And one last year.
The expedition’s 67 crew members, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren, closed the spacecraft hatch at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday. Happy Heinz During the farewell ceremony: “It was an honor to be involved in this and to be a little cog in the wheel that is Commercial Crew and the amazing teams, operational teams and design teams that brought this car together.”
Earlier, a camera installed on the Canadarm2 allowed a close inspection of the Starliner thermal protection system, allowing the spacecraft to re-enter. Heinz and Lindgren have spent the past several days Conducting tests and examinations from the vehicle, in addition to removing 500 pounds of incoming cargo and adding 600 pounds of outgoing cargo for the repatriation flight (including reusable tanks providing air for ISS crew members).
Upon landing, the Boeing OFT-2 mission will officially end, but there is still a lot of work to do. Mission planners will review mission data to determine how well the spacecraft is performing. As noted, the car had thrust failures while burning out the orbital insert, so that’s really an element of concern. Boeing and NASA hope to conduct a Starliner crew test later this year, but that will largely depend on the results of that test.