Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule is preparing to lift off on an uncrewed mission to the International Space Station on May 19 test launch, a mission rescheduled from August 2021, when 13 of the 24 oxidizer valves in the propulsion system in Starliner’s service module were discovered being stuck. Engineers and technicians at Boeing and NASA have worked to fully understand why the valves were stuck and to fix the problem.The mission team has since successfully addressed it. Starliner will meet up with the ISS about a day after launch and spend five to 10 days docked with the station, NASA officials have said now. Boeing has been working on the vehicle since at least 2010, when it was called Crew Space Transportation-100, or CST-100.The capsule cannot start carrying crew until it aces an uncrewed test flight to the orbiting lab.
Starliner will soon be stacked on top of an Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance. NASA presently has only SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to get its astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The agency would very much like to have a second crew transportation option to reach the station. “Robust crew services is really important to our sustained commitment to our research, the science and technology development that we’re doing on the ISS, and it is critical for us meeting our exploration goals,” said NASA’s Kathy Lueders, chief of human spaceflight operations. Boeing will possibly fly crew to the space station for the first time early in 2023.