Earlier this month, test engineers hit the power-on switch on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. For the first time this activated the spacecraft’s complete flight avionics system as it would be used by astronauts for all functions like maneuvering the spacecraft, rendezvous, docking, undocking and communicating with the International Space Station and mission control back here on Earth.
Throughout this power-on phase, engineers in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will be testing the Starliner’s complicated cable routing, which must remain secure in harsh environments including launch, landing and zero-gravity flight. Engineers will ensure that computers can communicate with each other between the upper and lower sections of the spacecraft before they are mated together later this year. While this spacecraft isn’t lined up to fly to space, it will be used for ground testing in the C3PF before going on to White Sands, New Mexico, for a Pad Abort Test early next year.
Stay tuned for more milestones leading up to the spacecraft’s first crew flight test to the International Space Station in 2018.