NASA is gearing up for a crucial test flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
The uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission is ready for launch on Friday, July 30, and will involve sending Starliner on a five-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) 250 miles above Earth.
The upcoming flight follows a failed attempt to send Starliner to the ISS in December 2019, so there’s a lot riding on the upcoming mission.
An investigation into the failed flight surfaced numerous issues with Starliner’s systems that Boeing and NASA have addressed but now need to thoroughly test during OFT-2.
To make the most of the mission, Starliner will take with it supplies and cargo for the space station, and return to Earth with research samples from experiments conducted on the orbiting laboratory.
All being well, Starliner will dock with the ISS the day after launch. It’ll stay at the station for five days before returning to Earth and touching down in a parachute-assisted landing at the White Sands Space Harbor about 150 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A successful mission will take the Starliner spacecraft a big step toward its first crewed flight to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The program has already succeeded in returning human spaceflight missions to U.S. soil with the help of SpaceX, and crewed missions to the moon and even Mars are also on the cards.
How to watch
Starliner will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday, July 30.
NASA will begin a livestream of the highly anticipated mission at 2 p.m. ET (11 p.m. PT).
The ULA Atlas 5 rocket carrying the spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 2:53 p.m. ET (11:53 a.m. PT). You can watch the livestream by hitting the play button on the player embedded at the top of this page or by visiting NASA’s website.
At 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT), NASA will conduct a news conference about the launch.
The following day, on Saturday, July 31, NASA will provide live coverage of Starliner’s rendezvous and docking with the space station. The broadcast will begin at noon, with the docking expected to take place at around 3:06 p.m. E.T. (12:06 p.m. PT).
All times are subject to change according to conditions and events.