Explained: Boeing’s Starliner and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program


The launch of Boeing’s unmanned Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), which was scheduled to take off from Space Launch Complex-41 on the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida on Tuesday, has been postponed again.

The spacecraft, called Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100), is part of an unmanned test flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission is part of NASA’s commercial crew program.

Announcing that the launch has been postponed, Boeing Space posted on Twitter: “We confirm that today’s #Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 launch is canceled. More details soon.

What is the CST-100 Starliner and what is it used for?

The Starliner, which is said to carry more than 400 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies, will take about 24 hours to reach the ISS, after which it will dock there.

The spacecraft was designed to accommodate seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo for low Earth orbit missions. Boeing’s website says that for NASA service missions to the ISS, it will carry up to four NASA-sponsored crew members and urgent scientific research.

“The Starliner has an innovative seamless structure and is reusable up to 10 times with a six month lead time. It also has wireless internet technology and a tablet for crew interfaces, ”the website says.

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When this test flight takes off, it will check the capabilities of the spacecraft from launch, docking, atmospheric reentry, and a desert landing in the United States. Space flight will also help NASA determine and certify the transportation system to transport astronauts to and from the space station in the future.

What is the NASA Commercial Crew Program?

The main objective of the NASA Commercial Crew Program is to make access to space easier in terms of cost, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS, allowing greater scientific research.

Through this program, NASA plans to reduce costs by sharing them with business partners such as Boeing and SpaceX, and also to incentivize companies to design and build commercial orbital transport services (COTS).

Second, by encouraging private companies such as Boeing and SpaceX to provide crew transportation services to and from low earth orbit, NASA can focus on building spacecraft and rockets for mission missions. deep space exploration.

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This means that to transport astronauts into space, NASA is considering partnering with companies such as SpaceX that focus on providing this service. To benefit from their services, NASA pays these companies, in the same way that a passenger pays a plane ticket to go from point A to point B.

Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA in September 2014 to develop transportation systems to transfer crews from the United States to the ISS. “These integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems will carry up to four astronauts on NASA missions, maintaining a crew of seven to maximize the time spent on scientific research at the orbiting laboratory,” the website says. The NASA.


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