Boeing finally has a chance to redeem itself after its first Starliner test flight went awry, and you can watch as it happens. NASA is launching Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 from Cape Canaveral today (August 3rd) at 1:20PM Eastern, with a livestream available from NASA’s YouTube channel (below) starting at 12:30PM ET. If successful, the unoccupied spacecraft will deliver over 400lbs of cargo to the International Space Station before returning to Earth with 550lbs of material.
Starliner will start an orbital insertion burn about 30 minutes after launch. You’ll have to be patient after that, though. The capsule isn’t expected expected to dock with the ISS until August 4th at 1:37PM ET, and will touch down in the western US after its “daylong” mission.
The vessel was originally supposed to launch on July 30th, but was delayed after the new Russian ISS module Nauka accidentally activated and forced a correction.
Much depends on a successful flight. Boeing and NASA will follow a successful test with six crew rotation missions. For Boeing, this is also about pride. SpaceX beat Boeing to the punch by successfully launching a crewed capsule in 2020, and is already performing crewed operational flights. The sooner Starliner is cleared to launch with people aboard, the sooner Boeing can catch up and play a key role in the privatization of spaceflight.
Update: Boeing has announced that the launch won’t happen today after all, due to “unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system.”
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