NASA to Provide Coverage of Boeing Orbital Flight Test for Commercial Crew


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The launch of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) to the International Space Station, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is targeted for 6:36 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 20. The uncrewed flight test will be the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s maiden mission to the space station.

Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Tuesday, Dec. 17, with prelaunch events.

Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. About 31 minutes after launch, Starliner will reach its preliminary orbit. It is scheduled to dock to the space station at 8:08 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. Starliner will carry about 600 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station and return some critical research samples to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico at 5:47 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 28.

The flight test will provide valuable data on the end-to-end performance of the Atlas V rocket, Starliner spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations. The data will be used as part of NASA’s process of certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry through a public-private partnership to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011.

NASA TV mission coverage is as follows (all times are Eastern). Media unable to attend the prelaunch and postlaunch briefings in person may ask questions via a phone bridge. Please contact the Kennedy Press Site at 321-867-2468 on the day of the briefing for the bridge information.

Tuesday, Dec. 17

2 p.m. (no earlier than) – Prelaunch briefing from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Participants include:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program 
  • Joel Montalbano, deputy manager, International Space Station Program  
  • John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program 
  • John Elbon, chief operating officer, United Launch Alliance
  • Pat Forrester, astronaut office chief, Johnson Space Center 
  • Will Ulrich, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron 

 

Thursday, Dec. 19

9:30 a.m. – NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine near the Countdown Clock with:

  • Robert Cabana, director, Kennedy Space Center
  • Mike Fincke, NASA Astronaut, Starliner Crew Flight Test
  • Nicole Mann, NASA Astronaut, Starliner Crew Flight Test
  • Chris Ferguson, Boeing Astronaut, Starliner Crew Flight Test
  • Suni Williams, NASA Astronaut, Starliner first operational mission crew
  • Josh Cassada, NASA Astronaut, Starliner first operational mission crew

 

Friday, Dec. 20

5:30 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 6:36 a.m. launch.

9 a.m. – Administrator postlaunch news conference. Participants include:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Jim Chilton, Boeing senior vice president, Space and Launch Division
  • Astronauts Chris Ferguson, Mike Fincke, and Nicole Mann

9:30 a.m. – Launch team postlaunch news conference

  • Steve Stich, deputy manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Boeing representative (to be determined)
  • ULA representative (to be determined)
  • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program

 

Saturday, Dec. 21

5 a.m. – Coverage of rendezvous, docking and hatch opening

Friday, Dec. 27

8:15 a.m. – Coverage of hatch closing

11:45 p.m. – Coverage of undocking

Saturday, Dec. 28

4:30 a.m. – Coverage of deorbit and landing begins

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective human space transportation to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. Commercial partnerships are an important part of NASA’s Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.

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