(ORDO NEWS) — Boeing’s Starliner capsule is finally ready for a re-test launch to the International Space Station on May 19, officials said Tuesday.
The uncrewed flight, dubbed OFT-2, is a major step towards certification of the spacecraft to carry passengers, giving NASA a second taxi supplier alongside SpaceX.
Aerospace giant Boeing, which was awarded a $4.2 billion contract in 2014, initially attempted to test in 2019 but was unable to rendezvous with the ISS after software glitches caused in-flight anomalies.
Since then, the program has been postponed several times. The last flight was scheduled to take place in August 2021, but the mission was aborted just hours before liftoff as high humidity corroded the Starliner valves.
It’s been a difficult eight months, I would say, but we’re very happy that we’ve solved this problem,” Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager, told reporters.
NASA scheduled a 22:54 GMT launch from the Space Center If the OFT
-2 flight is successful, Boeing will have to conduct another crew test before it is officially certified, and plans to complete the mission by the end of 2022, Boeing’s Mark Nappi said.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX, meanwhile, has already flown more than 20 people to the ISS on its Crew Dragon capsule after its first crewed flight in 2020.
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