Boeing officials said Wednesday that the company is targeting Dec. 17 for the launch of the first unpiloted orbital test flight of the new Starliner crew capsule from Cape Canaveral on a week-long demonstration mission to the International Space Station, a precursor to a mission with astronauts next year.
After assessing any damage to the spaceport caused by Hurricane Dorian as it narrowly missed Florida’s east coast, NASA says the Kennedy Space Center will reopen for normal operations Friday. Teams rolled the Space Launch System’s mobile launch platform from pad 39B back into the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building last week for safekeeping during the storm.
NASA civil servants and the agency’s contractor work force are bracing for high winds and rain from Hurricane Dorian, securing rocket stages, spacecraft assembly areas and even hauling a 6.7-million-pound mobile launch tower, designed for the huge rocket being built for the Artemis moon program, back to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping.
Boeing said Tuesday the first orbital test flight of its commercial crew capsule, named the Starliner, will be delayed until August “in order to avoid unnecessary schedule pressure” and give priority on the Atlas 5 rocket’s manifest to a U.S. Air Force communications satellite. NASA confirmed Wednesday that officials have approved an extension of the Starliner’s first crewed mission to last up to several months.