Boeing’s Starliner capsule took a drive by some historical launch sites earlier this month on its path to the pad.
Starliner, which passed its flight readiness review on Wednesday (May 11) to attempt a new uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station on May 19, was caught in a recent timelapse video gearing up for the mission.
Starliner’s journey in the 2-minute timelapse, which Boeing posted on Twitter Tuesday (May 10), begins at the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The video shows Starliner moving to United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC.
Accompanied by technicians, Starliner scoots out in front of a crowd, drives on a KSC launch pad road, and then makes its way over to the VIF, where it’s hoisted by crane for mating atop a ULA Atlas V rocket. Integration activities will be ongoing in the days before launch.
Starliner’s coming mission, known as Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will be Boeing’s second try at an ISS meetup. Boeing will once again attempt to simulate a crewed ISS mission with Starliner, demonstrating the key activities of launch, docking and splashdown.
During the first OFT mission, which launched in December 2019, Starliner suffered a number of glitches that prevented a rendezvous with the orbiting lab. Boeing is now hoping for a crewed test flight to the ISS later in 2022, provided OFT-2 goes well.
OFT-2 was supposed to launch last year, but Starliner and the Atlas V were rolled off its launch pad launch pad in early August to address more than a dozen stuck valves in the capsule’s service module. Ongoing troubleshooting of the valves, along with a busy launch schedule to the ISS, pushed the mission into 2022.
Boeing says it is confident it has addressed the valve problem, which was caused by moisture interacting with oxidizer and creating corrosion. The company also swapped out Starliner’s service module, initially planned for a forthcoming flight.
A second company is also offering astronaut rides to space. SpaceX delivered its first test crew in 2020 and recently launched its fourth operational test flight, called Crew-4. Boeing and SpaceX both have commercial crew contracts from NASA to perform ISS crewed missions.