NASA agreed previously that it would not halt its missions due to coronavirus as they already conduct elaborate tests on their crew members who fly to International Space Stations.
So, Boeing, one of NASA’s partners in preparing crafts has decided to retest its new passenger spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner without any astronauts on board. They already flew the spacecraft three months ago for the first time and Boeing says that this test will aim to achieve all the objectives on its inaugural flight but without the crew.
Source: Space News
Starliner will dock with the International Space Station and bring back news about how far the company is from letting other people fly to space.
“Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer,” Boeing said in a statement. “We will then proceed to the tremendous responsibility and privilege of flying astronauts to the International Space Station,” Boeing confirmed that it plans to conduct the flight in the fall, as The Washington Post first reported.
Source: Houston Chronicles
The spacecraft was constructed after six years of struggle and is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that will make traveling to and from space easier for humans.
To make sure that the vehicle can fly without any astronauts, Boeing performed a test launch on 20th December but failed to achieve the objective. As soon as it was launched, a glitch was experienced with the Starliner’s clock so the engines could not ignite at the right time, making it enter the wrong orbit. The vehicle was unable to reach the International Space Station and therefore Boeing brought it back to Earth.
Even though NASA pointed out all the issues that Boeing needed to fix in order to make the next flight successful, both the companies had to decide the date for the next launch.
However, Boeing made that decision alone and has set aside $410 million for another test flight. NASA says that they support the decision but “as this was not the recommendation made by Boeing, NASA will not speculate on what the agency would have required.”
So let’s see how far into space can Starliner reach this time because it will bring a breakthrough for humans who want to travel to the ISS with ease.