Aerospace company Boeing's Starliner is on track to fly its first crew in April this year, company officials and NASA have confirmed.
The Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission will send NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the station on an eight-day mission, launching from Cape Canaveral and landing at White Sands, New Mexico, SpaceNews.com reported.
The company last year successfully conducted an uncrewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS). In May 2022, the Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), docked with the ISS for a little less than a week.
Following the success of the April flight, NASA will likely certify it for use on ISS crew rotation missions.
"We established an April target for the CFT mission based on the work that was ahead of us, the hardware issues that we had encountered, and then the engineering product that needed to be completed," Mark Nappi, Boeing's Vice President and programme manager for the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, was quote as saying in the update.
"We've done our designs, we've tested this hardware, the analysis is all done."
The time has come to "wrap it all up in a bow and make sure that we (Boeing) did what we said we were going to do," Nappi added.
However, the exact date when the launch will take place is dependent on a number of factors, including closing the book on OFT-2's OMAC thruster malfunction and ISS traffic, Space.com reported.
According to Nappi, Boeing is "making the progress that we need to in order to be ready for that crew rotation in the winter of '24." Once in rotation, Boeing expects to fly one Starliner flight a year.
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