Uncrewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner space taxi delayed; crewed flight to be extended


Technicians at the Boeing Space Environment Test Facility in El Segundo, Calif., position a Starliner spaceship inside an acoustic test chamber. (Boeing Photo)

NASA today confirmed that the first uncrewed test flight of Boeing’s Starliner space taxi to the International Space Station would be delayed until at least August, and also said the first crewed flight would be extended into a long-duration mission.

In a news release, NASA said August was a “working date” that would have to be confirmed later, based on further testing of the spacecraft.

The decision to shift the date was guided by limited launch opportunities during the previously planned April-May time frame, as well as the planning for the launch of the AEHF-5 military communications satellite for the Air Force in June.

Boeing’s first crewed test flight of the Starliner to the space station was reset for no earlier than late 2019. Both the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test and the Crew Flight Test are to be launched atop United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets.

Between those two flights, Boeing is slated to conduct a pad abort test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to demonstrate the Starliner’s capability to carry the crew to safety in the event of a launch pad emergency.

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