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  • After months of setbacks, one of the summer's most anticipated spaceflights is finally ready for takeoff.

  • Boeing Starliner crew capsule is scheduled to launch to the ISS, and if all goes well, this uncrewed mission will pave the way for crewed missions later this year and proof that Boeing has what it takes to help reinvent commercial human spaceflight.

  • Boeing is in a unique position. It's one of the most well-established aviation companies in the biz, and also one of a number of private companies vying to be a leader in commercial spaceflight.

  • In 2014, the company was awarded a massive contract by Nasa to send crewed-flight missions up to the ISS. But It wasn't the only one.

  • Right around the same time, SpaceX also got a similar contract from Nasa and they hit the ground running.

  • On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first-ever private company to send a crew to the ISS, and this also marked the first time that astronauts had launched into space from U.S. soil since NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011.

  • Now, Boeing, on the other hand, has been struggling to get their crew capsule off the ground.

  • With a classic shape and a sleek modern interior, Boeing Starliner is nothing short of impressive.

  • It's designed to be reusable up to 10 times and it's capable of holding up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo, and it's the first U.S.-built craft certified for land-based returns.

  • But back in 2019, Boeing launched the capsule's first test flight on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, and just 30 minutes into that uncrewed flight, things started to go a little sideways

  • Starliner actually ended up in the wrong orbit and missed the ISS entirely.

  • This was a devastating blow to both Boeing and Nasa as it meant that they would have to push back their plans to send astronauts into orbit as part of the agency's commercial crew program.

  • Following review of the flawed test, NASA found 80 corrective actions that Boeing could take to make things better. One of the major issues to fix is Starliner's timing system because getting the lift-off countdown right is important.

  • A glitch was also found in the software that controls the separation of the crew and service modules just before they re-entered the atmosphere.

  • And other recommendations included adding more integrated testing and simulations, and making updates to various software and other processes.

  • And after a long 18 months of work to make those changes, NASA and Boeing are finally ready to launch orbital flight test Ⅱ.

  • Just like before, Starliner will ride atop the Atlas V rocket, and its main engine delivers nearly four meganewtons of thrust at sea level and each of its two boosters deliver roughly 1.5 meganewtons of thrust at liftoff.

  • About 4.5 minutes into the flight, Atlaswill separate from the dual-engine Centaur upper stage, which provides that additional thrust that's necessary to get Starliner into orbit.

  • A launch vehicle adapter attaches the capsule to the rocket and includes a metallic skirt to make the vehicle more aerodynamic.

  • But after the booster stage separates, the skirt will fly off, too, and allow Starliner to continue on to the ISS on its own.

  • Once there, it will stay for about a week, demonstrating its docking capabilities before coming back down to Earth.

  • Unlike SpaceX's crew capsule, which lands in the water, Boeing Starliner is designed to land on solid ground using a series of parachutes and airbags.

  • This expedites the return of any crew cargo or research samples and it makes it a lot easier for the whole craft to be reused for next time.

  • It almost goes without saying that if orbital flight testgo as well, it will mark a major milestone for NASA's commercial crew program;

  • it will be the first time the Boeing Starliner gets a chance to fully demonstrate its capabilities and prove that it has what it takes to safely fly a crew in the future, which NASA is already hoping will happen in late 2021 so fingers crossed, it goes right this time around.

  • Curious to know how Boeing's competitor, SpaceX got their flights up and running so quickly? And check out our countdown to launch episode on the company's demomission.

  • And if there's any other spaceflight news you want us to cover, let us know down in the comments.

  • Make sure you subscribe to Seeker and as always, thanks for watching. I'll see you at the next one.

After months of setbacks, one of the summer's most anticipated spaceflights is finally ready for takeoff.

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Boeing’s Historic Starliner Capsule Is Heading Back to the ISS

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/09/04
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