Boeing’s second spaceflight-rated CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is weighed before flight in this photo from January. Credit: Boeing/John Proferes
A second unpiloted test flight of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule — ordered after an initial demonstration mission fell short of reaching the International Space Station — is now scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral in August or September, leaving little margin to conduct the spaceship’s first flight with astronauts before the end of the year.
Boeing and NASA officials confirmed the new schedule in recent statements, following a delay earlier the year from the test flight’s previous target launch date of April 2. Managers blamed that schedule slip on delays in performing software testing to prepare for the upcoming test flight, including difficulties stemming from a winter storm in February that impacted Boeing’s software lab in Houston.
The CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is one of two commercial crew ships developed by U.S. industry under contract to NASA. SpaceX is NASA’s other commercial crew contractor, and that company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft began flying astronauts to the station last year.
Boeing’s Starliner, meanwhile, is still months away from it initially-unplanned second unpiloted test flight, and a crew test flight is expected at least several months ...