Spaceflight Insider

Boeing CST-100 Starliner one step closer to flight with completion of DCR

Artist's depiction of Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in the vicinity of the International Space Station. Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

Artist’s depiction of Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in the vicinity of the International Space Station. Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first flight of Boeing’s CST-100 “Starliner” spacecraft is one step closer to the launch pad with the successful completion of an Atlas V Launch Segment Design Certification Review (DCR). Colorado-based United Launch Alliance announced on Thursday, Jan. 4, that the review had been completed in support of Boeing’s efforts to send astronauts to the International Space Station via Starliner.

An Atlas V 422 rocket propels Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft skyward in this artist's depiction. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

An Atlas V 422 rocket propels Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft skyward in this artist’s depiction. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

The DCR was conducted at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in early December of 2017. If everything continues to go as it is currently planned, an uncrewed test flight of Starliner could take place as soon as August of this year (2018). The Orbital Flight Test (OFT) booster of the Atlas V 422 rocket is currently undergoing final assembly at ULA’s facilities located in Decatur, Alabama. 

The Centaur upper stage has completed pressure testing and other hardware, like the launch vehicle adapter and aeroskirt are currently on schedule to support test articles and, eventually, flight.  

“Design Certification Review is a significant milestone that completes the design phase of the program, paving the way to operations,” said Barb Egan, ULA Commercial Crew program manager via a release issued by ULA. “Hardware and software final qualification tests are underway, as well as a major integrated test series, including structural loads. Future tests will involve launch vehicle hardware, such as jettison tests, acoustic tests, and, finally, a pad abort test in White Sands, New Mexico.”

With more than 70 missions under its belt and a success rate listed by ULA at some 100 percent, Boeing tapped the Atlas V as the booster that it hopes Starliner will eventually use to launch astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

“ULA is progressing into the operational phase to launch the OFT and Crew Flight Test in 2018, and we are pleased with the progress we’re making toward a successful launch of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on the Atlas V,” said Gary Wentz, ULA Human and Commercial Systems vice president via a company-issued release. “We cannot overstate the importance of all the steps that go into this process as there is more than just a mission or hardware at stake, but the lives of our brave astronauts.”

The 422 configuration is unique among the Atlas V rockets as it will have two engines in its Centaur upper stage. Generally, Atlas Vs fly with a lone RL-10 engine in the Centaur upper stage. The Atlas V would launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 located in Florida which has been outfitted with a crew access arm in preparation for astronauts to ride the Atlas V to orbit.

If the uncrewed flight goes off without an issue, the first flight of Starliner with astronauts on board could take place as soon as November of 2018. Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA under the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program. to conduct crewed flights to the orbiting laboratory.

Boeing hopes to conduct the first uncrewed flight of Starliner later this year (2018). Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

Boeing hopes to conduct the first uncrewed flight of Starliner later this year (2018). Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

 

 

 

 

Tagged:

Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

The showstopper with both the Starliner and the Crew Dragon are the large load of hypergolic propellants used by their integrated escape systems. The former LOX/Ethanol propellants on the Starliner were a lesser evil but still unacceptable and the last I read they had switched to hypergolics.

Why the escape tower concept, which there seems to be no improving on, was ignored in favor of these inferior designs deserves investigation. Perhaps Mr. Rhian might consider tasking his journalists with such a project.

I would add my suspicion is they are not so much escape systems but station-keeping systems for space tourism projects. In which case, exactly like the Shuttle, safety is being sacrificed on the altar of the profit motive.

The escape tower would negate the planned escape system thrusters that would be capable of making a powered landing?

I think you are confusing the Starliner with Crew Dragon Peter. The Crew Dragon was supposedly going to make “propulsive landings” with it’s system but NASA said no way to that. Starliner can land on the water or ground using an airbag system. The escape system is, last I read, hypergolic and a pusher design the capsule sits on top of but separates from after use. The Dragon hypergolic is part of the capsule and there is no way to separate the crew from the propellants.

⚠ Commenting Rules

Post Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *