Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule will conduct an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on June 30. To prepare for the vehicle’s arrival, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon changed docking port at ISS Harmony module on Wednesday morning. SpaceX Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, alongside Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, hopped aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft during the relocation operation. They wore their custom-made SpaceX spacesuits that provide a pressurized environment, pictured below. Even though Crew Dragon features the capability to operate autonomously, all astronauts must ride the vehicle in case it fails to re-dock, doing so would enable the entire crew to prepare for a splashdown back to Earth.
A good day to take our spacecraft for a spin! Just a short trip around the block, to re-dock to the zenith @Space_Station port and free up the forward parking spot for upcoming spacecraft , yes, there’s a lot of traffic up here! 🅿 #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/z3s8HgObTL— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) July 21, 2021
LIVE: The @SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, with four astronauts aboard, relocates from the forward-facing port of the @Space_Station's Harmony module to its space-facing port. Watch: https://t.co/X7DHLs75mC— NASA (@NASA) July 21, 2021
All relocation operations went according to plan. Endeavour undocked autonomously from the Harmony module’s forward-port 6:45 a.m. EDT on July 21 and it relocated to the space-facing port, completing the docking operation at 7:35 a.m. EDT. “Dragon has autonomously re-docked with the Space Station,” SpaceX announced. This is the second port relocation. SpaceX’s Crew-1 Crew Dragon became the first U.S. spacecraft to conduct a port relocation at ISS in April, when Crew-2 astronauts arrived to the orbiting laboratory. The port relocations take place to meet some technical needs, depending on the spacecraft, switching port enables NASA to receive data from docking operations or use the Station’s robotic arm to extract cargo from docked vehicles.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is scheduled to arrive at the Space Station over the weekend. Upon arrival, it will mark the first time two different United States crew spacecraft are docked simultaneously to ISS. Starliner will launch on Friday at 2:53 p.m. EDT atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed mission is Identified as Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), which “will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data about Boeing’s crew transportation system, and help NASA certify Starliner and the Atlas V rocket for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station,” NASA said in a press release.
When Starliner leaves the Space Station, a third port relocation could take place soon to make room for SpaceX’s CRS-23 Cargo Dragon resupply mission scheduled for late-August. SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth until early-to-mid November. You can watch coverage of Boeing’s upcoming mission in the video below, courtesy of NASA TV [date is subject to change].
🚀 @NASA's @BoeingSpace Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the @Space_Station is scheduled to launch on Friday, July 30 at 2:53 p.m. ET.— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) July 20, 2021
📺 Mission coverage will begin on Thursday, July 22 with the Flight Readiness Review media teleconference: https://t.co/8hByGCa0Vw pic.twitter.com/XMTPWkSzEU
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: NASA TV