NASA assigns two astronauts to Starliner take a look at flight

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA has assigned two veteran astronauts to the primary crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft within the newest reshuffle of personnel assigned to the long-delayed mission.

NASA introduced on June 16 that Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore will fly the Crew Flight Take a look at (CFT) mission no sooner than the tip of this yr. The mission will journey to the Worldwide House Station on a flight at present scheduled to final two weeks.

Each Williams and Wilmore have in depth spaceflight expertise. Williams participated in two long-duration ISS missions in 2006-2007 and 2012, with a complete of 322 days in house. Wilmore was the pilot of the STS-129 shuttle mission in 2009 and spent six months on the ISS in 2014-2015.

NASA beforehand assigned Williams to Starliner-1, the primary operational Starliner mission to the ISS. Wilmore had been with CFT since 2020 when he changed Boeing business astronaut Chris Ferguson, who deserted the mission for private causes.

When NASA assigned Wilmore to CFT, he was scheduled to fly with fellow NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann. Nonetheless, NASA reassigned Mann in October 2021 to the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which is scheduled to launch in September. Within the announcement of the brand new CFT assignments, NASA mentioned Fincke will now practice as a backup for CFT “and stays eligible for project to a future mission.”

Throughout a briefing final month earlier than the launch of Starliner’s Orbital Flight Take a look at (OFT) 2 uncrewed take a look at flight, Fincke, Williams and Wilmore all mentioned they have been coaching collectively as an “govt” and never essentially assigned to a selected mission. Wilmore mentioned that has been the case since OFT-2’s preliminary launch try in August 2021 was postponed as a result of an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

“Since that point in August, the three of us have been working as executives supporting Starliner, and we all know we’re not essentially assigned to CFT,” Wilmore mentioned.

A two-week mission, NASA mentioned, “is ample to satisfy all of NASA’s and Boeing’s take a look at targets for CFT.” A number of years in the past, NASA proposed extending the CFT for as much as six months to safe NASA entry to the ISS, given the uncertainty over future purchases of Soyuz seats on which the company mattered to its astronauts. With SpaceX’s Crew Dragon now dealing with routine crew rotation missions, this growth is now not essential.

NASA has not but set a date for the CFT mission. Within the assertion, the company anticipated to make a “launch schedule evaluation” on the finish of July after reviewing information from OFT-2 and any adjustments wanted for Starliner after that mission. Different components embody the timing of different missions to the ISS and the launch schedule for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5, which is launching Starliner.

“Starliner and the Atlas 5 carried out nicely by all phases of OFT-2, and now we’re methodically reviewing every system to find out what must be upgraded or improved earlier than CFT, as we do with all different flights. crewed,” Steve Stich, NASA business crew program supervisor, mentioned within the NASA assertion.

With Williams’ reassignment to CFT and Josh Cassada’s earlier stint at Crew-5, the one astronaut nonetheless on Starliner-1 is Jeanette Epps. NASA mentioned it nonetheless plans to fly Epps on this mission, but additionally skilled on Crew Dragon “for extra planning and useful resource flexibility.”

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