On the flight will be CFT Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, who was given by NASA to the prime crew in October 2020, along with NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who will be the pilot.
NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission
Williams was the backup test pilot for CFT while she was assigned as commander of NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission. NASA says Williams is replacing NASA astronaut Nicole Mann as a CFT pilot, who was originally given to the mission in 2018. Mann was reassigned in 2021 to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission.
NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who was previously assigned as the Joint Operations Commander for CFT, will now train as the backup spacecraft test pilot, and remains eligible for assignment to a future mission, according to the news information.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
“Mike Fincke has dedicated the last nine years of his career to these first Boeing missions and Suni the last seven. Butch has done a marvelous job leading the team as the spacecraft commander since 2020,” told Reid Wiseman, chief of, the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“It was great to see Starliner’s successful journey to the International Space Station during the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission last month. We are all glancing forward to cheering on Butch and Suni as they fly the first crewed Starliner mission.”
Wilmore, Williams, and Fincke each have flown previously aboard the space station as long-duration crew members, according to NASA.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps is continuing to get ready for an upcoming long-duration mission on Starliner-1. NASA expresses it has also identified backup flight opportunities for Epps on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for additional scheduling and resource flexibility.
- In the meantime, NASA and Boeing are continuing to conduct OFT-2 data reviews while determining CFT launch possibilities in the future, according to the release.
NASA tells that following the successful completion of the uncrewed OFT-2 mission, the Starliner crew module has been replaced at Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will have system checkouts and vehicle inspections.
According to the news release, the Starliner team is delivering the initial test flight data to NASA and jointly determining forward work ahead of a crewed flight. NASA expects these engineering and program reviews to continue for several weeks, reaching a launch program assessment at the end of July, which is based upon factors that include spacecraft readiness, space station scheduling requirements, and Eastern Range availability.
“Starliner and the Atlas V performed well during all phases of OFT-2, and now we are taking a methodical look at each system to determine what needs to be upgraded or improved ahead of CFT, just as we do with every other crewed flight,” told Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “Additionally, Butch, Suni, and Mike have been instrumental in the development of Starliner on the path to having a second space station crew transportation system.”
NASA and Boeing test objectives for
A short-duration mission with two astronaut test pilots is enough to meet all NASA and Boeing test objectives for CFT, according to NASA, based on current resources and scheduling requirements of the space station. Test objectives include showing Starliner’s ability to safely fly operational crewed missions to and from the space station.
NASA tells that it may extend the CFT docked duration up to six months and add an astronaut later, if needed, to protect against unforeseen events with crew transportation to the station.
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After a successful CFT mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for crew missions to the space station, according to the news release.
NASA expresses that regular, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions support continued research and technology investigations that take place aboard the orbiting laboratory, adding that this research is beneficial to people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which include landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.
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