On Tuesday, Aug. 3, Boeing will relaunch its Starliner spacecraft for a second attempt at docking with the International Space Station. The companies' first attempt in late 2019 failed to reach the ISS but safely returned to Earth.
The mission was originally slated to launch on Friday, but it has been pushed back to Tuesday due to an unanticipated incident with an ISS module igniting its thrusters shortly after docking with the station Thursday.
Though no one was in danger and ground personnel restored control of the space station after approximately an hour, Starliner's launch will be postponed to allow mission control to continue working on the freshly arriving Nauka module's checkouts and guarantee the station is ready for Starliner's arrival.
The launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida is set for 1:20 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. The launch will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the NASA app.
If everything goes according to plan, Starliner will reach its preliminary orbit in about 31 minutes and then dock with the ISS the next day.
One of the most noteworthy missions of the year is the test launch of Boeing's Starliner. It serves as Boeing's response to SpaceX's Crew Dragon, which has already begun carrying people and heralded the end of a decade-long break in human spaceflight on American soil.
Both Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon are meant to transport astronauts and possibly tourists to and from the station and were constructed under NASA's supervision, albeit they will be owned and operated by their own firms.
In 2014, NASA granted SpaceX and Boeing $6.8 billion in contracts to accelerate the construction of crewed spaceships to replace the space shuttle, which was retired in 2011.
Between 2011 to 2020, NASA relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as the sole astronaut transport when the shuttle was retired. In the absence of the Starliner, the agency continues to secure seats on Soyuz to meet ISS requirements.
NASA has stated that it will continue to trade seats with Russia, putting Americans on Soyuz spacecraft and Russians on American rockets.