Starliner orbital flight test to be repeated


Boeing is to conduct another uncrewed orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner space vehicle after the first test flight failed to achieve all of its objectives.

The reusable Starliner capsule is being developed by Boeing for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will return the USA’s ability to launch people to orbit from American soil for the first time since the final space shuttle mission in 2011. The Starliner will be used to ferry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

However an uncrewed test flight which launched during December encountered several problems. These included a problem with its clock, which prevented it from reaching the correct orbit and reaching the ISS. In addition a software glitch that could have prevented the Starliner from landing correctly was also discovered and corrected before re-entry.

A subsequent NASA and Boeing investigation which concluded in early March identified 61 corrective actions to make to the Starliner before it can be flown again. As a consequence, Boeing has decided to refly the test flight to the ISS uncrewed, before any manned-test flights or missions are made with the Starliner.

“We are committed to the safety of the men and women who design, build and ultimately will fly on the Starliner just as we have on every crewed mission to space,” Boeing said in a statement.

“We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system. Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle.”

According to this NASA blog post, the timeline for the repeat flight test is yet to be determined.

You can read here about how NASA engineers test and develop the spacesuits for its astronauts.


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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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