How to watch Boeing launch its 2nd Starliner test flight for NASA on July 30

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Boeing is preparing to launch its Starliner spacecraft on a crucial unmanned flight to the International space station next week. Here’s how you can watch the week-long Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission live.

The main show is the launch itself, which will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, the agency’s website, and here on Space.com. The takeoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled for 2:53 p.m. EDT (6:53 p.m. GMT) next Friday (July 30) from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. You can watch launch and mission activities here and on the Space.com homepage, as well as on NASA TV.

If all goes according to plan, Starliner will take about 31 minutes to reach its preliminary orbit, then aim for docking the next day with the International Space Station. Starliner has already tried this encounter once, during the OFT-1 mission in December 2019, but suffered a series of technical problems who left the capsule stuck in the wrong orbit for a date.

Photographic tour: Inside the hangar of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was attached to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on the 17th July 2021.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was attached to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on the 17th July 2021. (Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

OFT-2 docking is scheduled for 3:06 p.m. EDT (1906 GMT) on Saturday, July 31, and will also be broadcast live on NASA channels and the Space.com website. Starliner will bring 400 pounds. (181 kilograms) of cargo and crew supplies from NASA to the complex in orbit and return to Earth with more than 550 pounds. (250 kg) of freight, the agency said in a press release.

A date for Starliner’s departure from the space station has yet to be set, but the OFT-2 mission is expected to last about a week. See below for a detailed timeline of media events in the preparation for the mission and its early days.

“OFT-2 will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft and the Atlas V rocket, from launch to docking to return to Earth in the desert of the western United States,” said the NASA in the same press release. “The unmanned mission will provide valuable data to NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transport system for scheduled flights with astronauts to and from the space station.”

Boeing is one of two commercial suppliers of crew to the International Space Station, with EspaceX, which has used its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for operational activities since 2020. SpaceX and Boeing received contracts from NASA in 2014 with a combined value of $ 6.8 billion to encourage spacecraft development crewed spacecraft intended to replace the spaceship, who retired in 2011. Boeing is expected to start sending astronauts into space in 2022, provided all goes well with OFT-2.

After the shuttle’s withdrawal, NASA relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as its sole astronaut taxi for nine years, between 2011 and 2020. The agency continues to buy tickets on Soyuz to meet the needs of the ISS in the absence of a Starliner. The agency promised it would continue to swap seats with the Russians – putting the Americans on the Soyuz and the Russians on the American vehicles – but this arrangement may be delayed at least until 2022.

In the meantime, here’s the full coverage of NASA’s pre-launch and live-launch activities for OFT-2. All times are approximate and may change due to technical or weather considerations.

Tuesday July 27

TBD – Pre-launch press conference on NASA Television, approximately one hour after the launch readiness review is completed. The scheduled participants are:

  • Steve Stich, NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager;
  • Joel Montalbano, NASA manager of the International Space Station program;
  • Jennifer Buchli, NASA Deputy Chief Scientist for the International Space Station Program;
  • John Vollmer, vice president and program director of Boeing’s commercial crew program;
  • Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and business programs;
  • Will Ulrich, of the US Space Force, will launch the meteorological office of the 45th Meteorological Squadron.

Thursday July 29

10:30 a.m. EDT (2:30 p.m. GMT) – NASA Administrator Briefing with the following scheduled participants:

  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson;
  • NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy;
  • Janet Petro, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center;
  • Chris Ferguson, director of Starliner mission operations and integration / crew systems at Boeing;
  • Barry “Butch” Wilmore, NASA astronaut on Starliner’s first crewed mission (Crew Flight Test)
  • Michael “Mike” Fincke, NASA astronaut during the crew’s flight test;
  • Nicole Mann, NASA astronaut during the crew’s flight test;
  • Jennifer Buchli, Deputy Chief Scientist of the NASA International Space Station Program.

Friday July 30

2:00 p.m. EDT (4:00 p.m. GMT) – Coverage of the NASA TV launch begins.

2:53 p.m. EDT (16:53 GMT) (approx.) – Starliner OFT-2 takes off from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida.

3:24 p.m. EDT (5:24 p.m. GMT) (approx.) – Starliner OFT-2 reaches preliminary orbit.

4:00 p.m. EDT (6:00 p.m. GMT) (approx) – Post-launch press conference on NASA TV with representatives from NASA, Boeing and ULA. Participants have not yet been announced.

Saturday July 31

12:00 p.m. EDT (4:00 p.m. GMT) – NASA TV meetup and docking coverage begins.

3:06 PM EDT (1906 GMT) (approx) – Starliner docking live to the International Space Station.

Sunday August 1st

9:15 a.m. EDT (1:15 p.m. GMT) – NASA TV’s hatch opening and welcome remarks coverage begins.

9:35 a.m. EDT (13:35 GMT) (approximately) – Hatch opens and welcome remarks.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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