Starliner is ready to be retested

The Atlas V rocket and the Boeing-built CST-100 Starliner spaceship were successfully placed on the LC-41 launch pad by NASA and launch operator ULA specialists. 

Main Characteristics of the Starliner

Boeing designed the CST-100 Starliner under a NASA contract granted through the CCP program. Its purpose is to develop private manned spacecraft capable of delivering humans to the International Space Station. The Crew Dragon spacecraft was built by SpaceX, who received the second contract for this program.

The Starliner has a height of 5.03 meters, a width of 4.56 meters, a weight of 13 tons (when refueled), and an internal volume of 11 m2. The Starliner can carry up to seven passengers in principle, but for missions to the International Space Station, the crew will be limited to four astronauts. Parachutes are used to land the spaceship on the ground. The ability to raise the altitude of the ISS orbit is a key function of the gadget. After Russia leaves the station, NASA may find this option valuable.

Starliner Technical Problems

The Starliner is a troublesome spacecraft. Initially, its development did not lag too much behind that of Crew Dragon. The Starliner's first unmanned test took place in December of this year. However, the spacecraft did not have enough fuel to connect with the ISS due to improper propulsion system operation, causing the test program to be disrupted. As a result, Boeing was forced to decide whether or not to conduct another unmanned launch. It was finally set for August 2021 after multiple postponements.

However, the spacecraft did not even lift off this time. The Starliner's fuel supply valves did not open during the pre-launch inspection. This was caused by diazote tetroxide leaking (used as an oxidizer). It became nitric acid after reacting with moisture trapped inside the ship, damaging the valves.

The damage was so serious that Boeing management had no choice but to replace the spacecraft's service module entirely. It took an extremely long time.

Decisive flight of the Starliner

Given the Starliner's history of multiple technical issues and postponements, the test slated for tomorrow could be crucial in the Starliner's future. With success, Starliner will be able to take its first manned flight. Failure will raise valid concerns about the spacecraft's future prospects and fundamental suitability for flight.

If everything goes according to plan, the Starliner will spend a day in autonomous flight following launch. The spacecraft will then dock with the International Space Station. It will transport 360 kilograms of various supplies to the station. Instead of crew, the Starliner will be equipped with 15 sensors and a mannequin named Rosie the Rocketeer. Their findings will help determine what kinds of overloads the spacecraft's crew will face during the voyage.

The Starliner will spend 5 to 10 days in orbit in total. The spacecraft will land at the White Sands test site in New Mexico after disengaging from the ISS. It will return roughly 250 kilograms of goods to Earth with the mannequin.

The spacecraft's next flight has been set for the end of 2022 thus far. Starliner will transport three NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will spend 2 to 4 months.

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