(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has finally decided on who will fly as part of a test manned mission on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.
Astronauts Barry Butch Wilmore and Sunny Williams will take part in the Crew Test Flight (CFT), the first manned Starliner mission to the International Space Station.
Recall that the second test flight OFT-2 of the Starliner without a crew operated on the ISS and landed successfully on May 25.
The success of this mission paved the way for manned flight, although NASA and Boeing are still analyzing OFT-2 data to determine the causes of several abnormal situations that occurred during the flight.
Data analyzes are likely to continue for at least a month. NASA intends to complete the assessment and schedule the launch of the next mission at the end of July, the agency said in a statement .
Learn more about Starliner manned flight
During the flight, astronaut Barry Wilmore will command the mission, Suny Williams will be the pilot, and fellow NASA astronaut Mike Fincke will train as a reserve pilot.
The test manned flight will be launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral in Florida, as was the case last time as part of OFT-2.
The mission is expected to last about two weeks, although these and other mission parameters are not predetermined; NASA can extend the duration of the mission to six months if necessary, and can also add a third astronaut to the flight. All this is stated in the statement of the agency.
What will happen next
If the manned mission goes well, NASA will transition into Starliner certification for crewed flights to and from the space station.
The space agency said in a statement that agency astronaut Jeanette Epps is already preparing to fly on the first of these missions, called Starliner-1. But she also trains on the SpaceX Dragon capsule in case circumstances require her to fly the vehicle.
Recall that NASA signed contracts for the flights of astronauts from Boeing and SpaceX in 2014. The SpaceX mission is fully operational and has already launched five Crew Dragon missions to the ISS as of today.
At the same time, Boeing ran into a number of problems during the first test flight of the Starliner. They did not diminish later. Only on May 19 was it possible to make a successful test flight to the ISS.
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