After a flawed initial flight last year, Boeing has decided to launch its commercial space capsule called Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS) for another uncrewed flight test for NASA. Although no new launch date has been set, NASA on Monday said it has accepted the proposal to fly the mission again and will work side-by-side with Boeing to resume flight tests to the space station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Programme. In its first uncrewed flight test in December 2019, Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket did not dock with the space station as planned as the spacecraft did not enter into the intended orbit. The spacecraft, however, successfully landed two days later.
Data from the next and previous flight test will be used as part of NASA's process of certifying Boeing's crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station. If Boeing would have proposed a crewed mission as the next flight, NASA would have completed a detailed review and analysis of the proposal to determine the feasibility of the plan. However, the second uncrewed flight does not relieve Boeing from completing all the actions determined from the joint NASA/Boeing independent review team, which was commissioned following the flawed initial flight. NASA said it still intends to conduct the needed oversight to make sure those corrective actions are taken.
A NASA probe into Boeing's first uncrewed space flight found problems with the company's software. NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to create integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems to carry astronauts on NASA missions in September 2014. SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule earlier completed its unmanned flight test to the space station.