NASA and Boeing announced Thursday that they will conduct an unmanned test flight of the Starliner capsule to the International Space Station on July 30.
The launch was postponed several times, and the last announced date for April was thwarted due to a cold snap that caused major power outages in Texas in March.
NASA’s Commercial Crew program is run in part from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, although launches are made from the Kennedy Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Takeoff is scheduled for July 30 at 18:53 GMT.
“NASA and Boeing have done an incredible amount of work to get to this point,” said Steve Stich, director of the Commercial Crew program.
It is expected that after this test the first manned flight of the Starliner will follow, which would not be before September.
During the first unmanned test flight in December 2019, the Starliner capsule was unable to dock on the ISS and returned to Earth prematurely.
Subsequently, NASA identified 80 corrections that Boeing had to make to the capsule and called the test a “high visibility” alert, as the spacecraft was close to being lost on two occasions.
Boeing lags behind SpaceX, Elon Musk’s firm that was also chosen by NASA to develop a spacecraft to transport supplies and astronauts to the ISS.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule already brought three groups of astronauts to the ISS, the latest of which – which included the first European, Thomas Pesquet – last month.
Both companies received billions of dollars from NASA to restore America’s ability to get astronauts into space after the end of the shuttle program in 2012.
Between 2011 and 2020, when SpaceX brought in its first crew, the United States relied on Russian Soyuz rockets to travel to the ISS.
ia / ec / yow / me