A computer rendering of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spaceship orbiting Earth. Boeing
- Before flying astronauts, Starliner must complete this uncrewed test flight successfully.
- Boeing tried this flight in 2019, but a software issue prevented Starliner from reaching the ISS.
Boeing's Starliner spaceship will attempt to redeem itself on Tuesday, after botching its last major test flight in 2019.
The company's eventual goal is to fly astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, the way SpaceX already does. Both companies developed their launch systems through NASA's Commercial Crew Program, a competition that awarded funding to private companies in order to develop new astronaut-ready spacecraft.
But before carrying people, the Starliner has to complete an uncrewed test flight to and from the ISS as part of NASA's certification process. That mission, called Orbital Flight Test 2, or OFT-2, is set to launch on Tuesday at 1:20 p.m. ET. Starliner will blast off atop an Atlas V rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Boeing first attempted this flight in December 2019, but it turned out that one of the spaceship's clocks was set 11 hours ahead of schedule. The clock prompted the spaceship's engines to fire too vigorously, too early - a move meant to come at a later stage of the mission.
That caused the spaceship to burn through 25% of its fuel, forcing Boeing to skip docking with the space station in order to save the Starliner from total failure.
Now, the company is confident that it has fixed the problems with its spaceship, so it's time for the do-over.
"Now's the right time. This team is ready to go, this vehicle is ready to go," Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's human-spaceflight directorate, said in a press briefing last week.
Watch Starliner launch live
NASA plans to broadcast the launch in the stream below starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.