NASA has announced that the second uncrewed orbital test mission of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will head to the International Space Station on May 19.

The "Starliner" will be launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

  NASA said the uncrewed mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch, docking to the space station, and return to Earth.

If the mission is successful, NASA and Boeing will determine the launch window for Starliner's first crewed flight test.

  This uncrewed mission and the first crewed flight test of a future Starliner "will provide NASA with valuable data to validate that the Boeing Crew Transportation System can be used for regular flights of astronauts to and from the space station."

The space station remains NASA's springboard for the next big leap in space exploration, including future missions to the moon and Mars, NASA said.

  The Starliner is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

In 2011, after the retirement of the US space shuttle, the means of transporting astronauts to and from the space station in the United States all "relyed" on Russian spacecraft.

In order to change this situation, NASA strongly supports the development of commercial manned spaceflight, hoping that the model of government-enterprise cooperation can nurture this industry.

  In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX received large contracts of $4.2 billion and $2.6 billion respectively from NASA to build the "Starliner" manned spacecraft and the manned Dragon spacecraft.

  Now, SpaceX is preparing to carry out the fifth astronaut flight to the International Space Station for NASA, and use the manned Dragon spacecraft to develop a space tourism line.

The development of the old Boeing's "Starliner" has a tragic fate, and the second test flight mission has been repeatedly delayed.

  On December 20, 2019, the "Starliner" carrying a dummy took off from Cape Canaveral on the "Atlas 5" carrier rocket for the first uncrewed test flight.

But the result was a big drop in the standard. The "Starliner" timer was 11 hours wrong, and too much propellant was consumed in vain, which led to the cancellation of the docking plan with the space station.

  Subsequently, an independent review panel jointly conducted by NASA and Boeing made 80 rectification recommendations for the investigation of the failure of the first uncrewed test flight of the "Starliner", about half of which involved how Boeing and NASA solved the problems of software development and system testing.

Even NASA admits that decades of cooperation with Boeing have given NASA blind trust.

  The launch date of the second uncrewed orbital test mission of "Starliner" has been repeatedly delayed, from the fall of 2020 to March 2021. Later, in order to free up more time for the spacecraft and hardware processing, the test flight was postponed to April 2021. moon.

The second uncrewed orbital test flight was then postponed again until July 2021, and is currently scheduled to travel to the International Space Station unmanned on May 19 this year.

  (This article is from The Paper, for more original information, please download the "The Paper" APP)

  Responsible editor: Li Yuequn

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