All eyes were on Cape Canaveral this morning as Boeing attempted an uncrewed launch of its Starliner astronaut capsule. The previous test of the NASA-funded system did not go well, so the aerospace company was under tremendous pressure to succeed. Here’s how you can rewatch the event.
This is Boeing’s second attempt at Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), as the prior attempt in 2021 never got off the ground. The company claims to have resolved the valve problem that resulted in the cancelled launch. NASA is seeking to add a second option for delivering its astronauts to the ISS — the first option being SpaceX Crew Dragon.
When can I watch the Boeing Starliner astronaut capsule launch in Australia?
The uncrewed CST-100 Starliner capsule launched at 8:54 a.m. AEST, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Live coverage of the launch was provided on NASA TV, YouTube, and at Boeing’s Starliner site, but if you want to rewatch the event, you can check out the broadcast below.
OFT-2 represents a critical step in NASA’s certification of Starliner for its astronauts. To that end, Boeing is hoping to conduct an end-to-end test of the spacecraft’s capabilities, including launch, docking at the International Space Station, atmospheric re-entry, and a parachute-assisted desert landing in White Sands, New Mexico.
During the OFT-1 mission in December 2019, Starliner made it to space but failed to reach the ISS after a software automation glitch caused the spacecraft to burn excess fuel. OFT-2 failed to leave the launch pad in August 2021 because 13 of 24 oxidizer valves in the capsule’s propulsion system failed to open during the countdown. Moisture, it was later determined, crept into the system, causing nitric acid to form. The resulting corrosion caused the valves to get stuck. NASA says the issue “has been closed out” and Boeing has been cycling the valves regularly to ensure proper function.
No crew participated in OFT-2, but Starliner has a fake passenger in the form of Rosie the Rocketeer. Boeing’s “anthropometric device” is currently strapped to a Starliner seat, where its 15 sensors will collect data to better understand what actual astronauts will experience during Starliner flights. Rosie is a space veteran, having survived the botched OFT-1 mission.
Starliner will deliver 363 kg of cargo to the ISS, so the test, if successful, will serve a practical purpose. Boeing’s spacecraft will return to Earth five to 10 days after docking, at which time it will bring 272 kg of cargo back to the surface, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System tanks that provide air to the ISS crew.
A successful test of Starliner would set the stage for a Crew Flight Test, or CFT, in which two yet-to-be-named NASA astronauts will participate in the flight. No date has been set for this launch, but it could happen within the calendar year.