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Boeing plans second Starliner capsule test flight in July
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Jun 16, 2021

Boeing will attempt a second uncrewed test flight of the company's Starliner space capsule on July 30 after a disappointing first test flight in December 2019, the company and NASA said Wednesday.

United Launch Alliance plans to send the capsule into space aboard an Atlas V rocket at 2:53 p.m. EDT from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The mission, known as Orbital Test Flight 2 or OFT-2, will attempt to prove Starliner's capability to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

NASA and Boeing plan to dock at the space station, and the capsule would then fly back to a land-based return under parachutes in New Mexico.

The previous test flight in December 2019 failed to reach the International Space Station because of a software problem. The capsule landed successfully in New Mexico after two days in space.

NASA classified that test failure as a "high visibility close call," the lowest category NASA uses for serious mission problems. Boeing agreed to a lengthy checklist of fixes and checkouts before Starliner would fly again.

Boeing is now at least a year behind competitor SpaceX in attempting to fly astronauts to the space station as a contractor in NASA's Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX has flown three crews to the orbiting platform, first in May 2020.

"NASA and Boeing have closed all actions recommended by the joint NASA-Boeing Independent Review Team, which was formed as a result of Starliner's first test flight in December 2019," Boeing said in a press release Wednesday.

Teams inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida have begun fueling the Starliner crew module and service module in preparation for launch, Boeing said.

If all goes well with this test flight, Boeing intends to launch astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore, Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke to the space station in late 2021.

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NASA awards laser air monitoring system contract for Orion
Washington DC (SPX) May 31, 2021
NASA has awarded Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville, Alabama, a contract to produce a Laser Air Monitoring System (LAMS) for the agency's Orion spacecraft beginning with the Artemis III mission. The LAMS contract is valued at $17.8 million for production of the Artemis III unit, as well as a qualification unit, design modifications, and long-lead procurement items in support of the Artemis IV and V missions. It is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with firm fixed price orders. The ... read more

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