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StartSpaceCountdown begins for check flight of Starliner crew capsule – Spaceflight Now

Countdown begins for check flight of Starliner crew capsule – Spaceflight Now

Reside protection of the countdown and launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station in Florida. The mission will launch Boeing’s human-rated Starliner spacecraft on its second unpiloted Orbital Flight Take a look at. Textual content updates will seem robotically under. Comply with us on Twitter.

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The countdown for liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket and Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule started Thursday morning at Cape Canaveral. Launch is about for six:54 p.m. EDT (2254 GMT) to start the Starliner spacecraft’s second unpiloted check flight to the Worldwide Area Station.

You’ll be able to watch our reside launch protection on this web page.

The Starliner check flight is a precursor for future crew missions on the Boeing-owned capsule. The spacecraft was developed beneath the auspices of a multibillion-dollar industrial crew contract with NASA.

However the Starliner program is working years late, and the Orbital Flight Take a look at 2 mission set for liftoff Thursday is a do-over of the primary uncrewed check flight in December 2019. Officers referred to as off the OFT-2 mission’s first launch alternative final August because of caught valves within the spacecraft’s propulsion, including one other nine-month delay to this system.

The Atlas 5 countdown started at 7:34 a.m. EDT (1134 GMT) Thursday with the power-up of the rocket’s pc for testing. The Atlas 5 rolled out to Area Launch Advanced 41 at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station on Wednesday morning from ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility a few third of a mile south of the pad.

ULA’s launch workforce loaded rocket-grade kerosene into the Atlas 5’s first stage Wednesday. Tremendous-cold liquid oxygen will probably be pumped into the Atlas 5’s first stage throughout the countdown Thursday, together with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the Centaur higher stage.

ULA has prolonged the countdown timeline for Starliner missions. The Atlas 5 countdown sometimes lasts about seven hours for a satellite tv for pc launch. For Starliner missions, the countdown runs greater than 11 hours.

Fueling of the Atlas 5’s first stage and Centaur higher stage with cryogenic propellants will start round six hours previous to liftoff at at 12:54 p.m. EDT (1654 GMT). A built-in countdown maintain at T-minus 4 minutes, which usually lasts quarter-hour, will prolong for 4 hours, a change to provide astronauts time to board the Starliner spacecraft on crew missions.

ULA is following the identical countdown timeline for the unpiloted OFT-2 mission, giving groups a chance to follow for the presence of astronauts on future flights.

A “blue workforce” comprised of fewer than 10 Boeing and ULA staff will assist the astronauts into the Starliner spacecraft throughout countdowns for crewed missions. The workforce’s job will probably be just like the closeout crew from the Apollo and area shuttle eras.

Through the OFT-2 countdown, the blue workforce will journey to the launch pad and run by their launch day procedures throughout the four-hour countdown maintain, simply as they might if astronauts have been flying. The blue workforce will shut the Starliner hatch and evacuate the pad earlier than the resumption of the countdown. The crew entry arm will retract from the Starliner spacecraft about 11 minutes earlier than liftoff.

Then the countdown clock will begin ticking once more at T-minus 4 minutes, and the Atlas 5 will swap to inside energy, pressurize its propellant tanks, and put together for ignition of its RD-180 primary engine.

Liftoff is timed for precisely 6:54:47 p.m. EDT (2254:47 GMT). There’s one instantaneous launch alternative per day for the OFT-2 mission.

If all goes in line with plan, the Starliner spacecraft will arrive on the area station for an automatic docking at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT) Friday. Undocking and touchdown in New Mexico is scheduled for Might 25, climate allowing.

The launch of the 172-foot-tall (52-meter) Atlas 5 rocket Thursday will kick off the important check flight. Liftoff is timed for roughly the second Earth’s rotation brings the launch pad beneath the flight path of the Worldwide Area Station.

The Atlas 5 will fireplace off the pad with 1.6 million kilos of thrust from its Russian-made RD-180 primary engine and two strong rocket boosters provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne. Steering northeast from the seaside launch advanced, the Atlas 5 will surpass the velocity of sound in 65 seconds, then shed its strap-on boosters at T+plus 2 minutes, 22 seconds.

The RD-180 engine, burning kerosene and liquid oxygen, will fireplace till T+plus 4 minutes, 29 seconds. The RD-180 will throttle again late in its four-and-a-half minute burn to restrict acceleration masses on the Starliner to not more than 3.5 Gs, simply as it’ll on future astronaut missions.

Six seconds after engine shutdown, the bronze first stage will separate from the Atlas 5’s Centaur higher stage to fall into the Atlantic Ocean, then a disposable aerodynamic cowl will jettison from the nostril cone of the Starliner capsule.

Two Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engines will ignite at T+plus 4 minutes, 45 seconds, to start a seven-minute burn. A number of seconds later, the Atlas 5 will jettison an aerodynamic skirt extension beneath the Starliner spacecraft. The Centaur stage’s RL10 engines will generate 44,600 kilos of thrust to put the Starliner spacecraft on an arcing, suborbital trajectory.

The Atlas 5 rocket’s configuration for Starliner crew flights is exclusive from the launcher variant used for satellite tv for pc missions. The twin-engine Centaur higher stage, as soon as a mainstay of older variations of the Atlas rocket, has solely flown as soon as on an Atlas 5 — the primary Starliner check flight in 2019.

The twin-engine higher stage has the facility required to put the Starliner spacecraft on the correct altitude and velocity, whereas flying a flatter and throttled again trajectory, sustaining protected abort choices for astronaut crews all through the climb into area. The flight profile additionally minimizes g-loads on the Starliner spacecraft and astronauts inside.

The Atlas 5 will launch the Starliner spacecraft practically quarter-hour after liftoff on a 112-mile-high (181-kilometer) suborbital trajectory, simply shy of the rate wanted to enter a secure orbit round Earth. After separating from the rocket, the Starliner’s personal engines, mounted on the ship’s service module, will enhance the spacecraft into orbit to start the trek to the Worldwide Area Station.

The suborbital trajectory is uncommon for a satellite tv for pc launch, however it’s just like the method utilized by the area shuttle. The shuttle’s three primary engines, fed by cryogenic propellants from an exterior gas tank, accelerated the orbiter into area, reaching a velocity simply wanting that required to enter orbit.

After jettisoning the expendable exterior tank, the shuttles fired their in-space maneuvering engines round a half-hour after launch to enter orbit. In any other case, the shuttles would have minimize quick their missions and re-entered the ambiance.

Credit score: United Launch Alliance

The Starliner will comply with an identical launch profile on the OFT-2 mission, and on the following crewed flights. The Starliner’s orbit insertion burn is scheduled to start about 31 minutes into the mission.

The Atlas 5’s Centaur higher stage will proceed on the suborbital path for re-entry into the ambiance. Particles from the higher stage will affect within the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

The Starliner spacecraft’s launch abort engines will probably be armed throughout the experience into area Thursday. On Boeing’s OFT-1 mission in 2019, the abort system operated in a “monitor” or “shadow” mode to keep away from an inadvertent abort set off.

The Atlas 5 rocket carries an Emergency Detection System, consisting of two redundant computer systems, to observe key well being parameters on the launch automobile. If a security restrict is tripped, the Starliner will robotically command an abort, and the capsule’s escape engines would push it away from the failing rocket.

ROCKET: Atlas 5 (AV-082)

MISSION: Starliner OFT-2

PAYLOAD: Starliner spacecraft for Boeing and NASA

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Area Power Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: Might 19, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 6:54:47 p.m. EDT (2254:47 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% probability of acceptable climate; Main considerations are cumulus clouds and anvil clouds



TARGET ORBIT: Suborbital trajectory at spacecraft separation with an apogee or 112 miles (181 kilometers); Starliner will carry out an orbit insertion burn at T+plus 31 minutes


  • T-00:00:02.7: RD-180 ignition
  • T+00:00:01.1: Liftoff
  • T+00:00:06.1: Start pitch/yaw maneuver
  • T+00:00:41.8: Most aerodynamic stress (Max-Q)
  • T+00:01:05.8: Mach 1
  • T+00:02:22.0: Stable rocket booster jettison
  • T+00:04:29.0: Atlas booster engine cutoff (BECO)
  • T+00:04:35.0: Atlas/Centaur stage separation
  • T+00:04:41.0: Ascent cowl jettison
  • T+00:04:45.0 Centaur first primary engine begin (MES-1)
  • T+00:05:05.0: Aeroskirt jettison
  • T+00:11:54.5: Centaur first primary engine cutoff (MECO-1)
  • T+00:14:54.5: Starliner spacecraft separation


  • 675th launch for Atlas program since 1957
  • 376th Atlas launch from Cape Canaveral
  • 264th mission of a Centaur higher stage
  • 241st use of Centaur by an Atlas rocket
  • 510th and 511th manufacturing RL10 engine to be launched
  • 99th flight of an RD-180 primary engine
  • 93rd launch of an Atlas 5 since 2002
  • 2nd flight of a Starliner spacecraft on an Atlas 5 rocket
  • twenty seventh flight of an Atlas 5 rocket in assist of a NASA mission
  • a hundred and thirtieth and 131st AJ-60 strong rocket boosters flown
  • 77th launch of an Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral
  • third Atlas 5 launch of 2022
  • one hundred and thirty fifth Advanced Expendable Launch Car flight
  • one hundred and fiftieth United Launch Alliance flight general
  • eighty fifth Atlas 5 beneath United Launch Alliance
  • 108th United Launch Alliance flight from Cape Canaveral
  • 2nd Atlas 5 to fly within the N22 configuration
  • 104th launch from Advanced 41
  • 77th Atlas 5 to make use of Advanced 41
  • twenty first orbital launch try general from Cape Canaveral in 2022


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