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Weather Becoming an Issue for Starliner Launch

Weather is the biggest issue for NASA and Boeing, who say a second test flight of the company’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle is still on track on July 30. The Starliner spacecraft and its Atlas 5 launch vehicle passed a launch readiness assessment on July 27 for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2 mission, which is planned to launch at 2:53 p.m. Eastern on July 30 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The main issue is the Weather, with afternoon thunderstorms posing a 40% possibility of suitable conditions for the immediate launch window.

Will Ulrich, said, “We’re a little bit pessimistic going into week’s end, but we do have to be realistic. We can hope that we’ll find a gap in the shower and thunderstorm activity that we’re anticipating.” If the launch on July 30 is cancelled due to Weather or other factors, the next two launch dates are Aug. 3 and 4. This is due to orbital mechanics as well as an unavailability of a launch opportunity on July 31 due to a “classified operation” on the Eastern Range, according to Gary Wentz, vice president of government and commercial programmes at United Launch Alliance.

If the classified operation does not take place, he advised that the July 31 launch date be revisited. The briefing was utilised by NASA and Boeing to restate what they said during a news conference on July 22 about the Starliner spacecraft’s preparedness to fly the OFT-2 mission, which comes more than a year and a half after the original OFT mission was cut short due to software and communications issues.

Boeing completed the implementation of 80 suggestions related to the vehicle’s software and communications system. According to John Vollmer, vice president and programme manager of Boeing’s commercial crew programme, implementing the recommendations required just a “very small set” of software changes, with additional alterations to the spacecraft’s communications system.

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