Starliner to Re-fly Orbital Flight Test

Boeing Space announced today that they will be re-flying OFT (Orbital Flight Test). (Read the entire press-release here.) According to their press release, the decision to re-fly the mission is being made to “demonstrate the quality of Starliner.”

The previous OFT, launched on Dec. 20, 2019. The mission was marred from the beginning, as an Mission Elapsed Time error caused the craft to be unable to achieve the desired orbit to rendezvous with the ISS. It was revealed after the craft safely landed that another coding error was found that would have caused the service module to collide with the craft, possibly causing a catastrophic failure upon reentry.

CST-100 Starliner returns to Earth after a truncated Orbital Flight Test. Dec. 22, 2019. (Image credit: NASA)

The results of the commission set up to investigate the anomalies published their preliminary findings on February 7. Part of those findings focused on the need to conduct safety review and a line-by-line software review, a process which could take months.

Boeing had previously stated that another OFT would cost $410 million and pulled that cost from their earnings in order to offset the potential for a reflight. That was restated today, in that this flight is being flown at “no additional cost to the taxpayer.”

While in essence, the original OFT was successful in many aspects, the most visible part of that test, the ISS docking, was not able to be conducted.