5. BEHIND THE SCENES: Boeing Starliner CST-100 Orbital Flight Test

In this episode we go behind the scenes of Boeing’s Starliner CST-100 Orbital Flight Test. As you may know, this was a milestone launch for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing had previously conducted a successful pad abort test for Starliner in early November 2019. This orbital flight test, on December 20, 2019, was successful in that it launched and returned safely two days later; however the Starliner spacecraft, now named Calypso, was not able to dock with the International Space Station as planned. Over the next few minutes in this program we’re going to discuss our experience behind the scenes of this monumental mission as attendees of the NASA Social Program. I’ve invited my new friend Jason Fields (of “Florida is Sinking” podcast), who also attended, to discuss this incredible experience.

Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) was the first launch of the CST-100 Starliner. The goals of the OFT mission were to demonstrate on-orbit operation of all systems; demonstrate the performance of the Guidance, Navigation and Control systems of the Atlas V and Starliner through ascent, on-orbit and reentry; verify acoustic and vibration levels as well as loads across Starliner’s exterior and interior throughout the mission; monitor launch abort triggers; demonstrated end-to-end operational performance and procedures; and demonstrate reentry and landing.

All human launch systems, going back to the Mercury Atlas, traditionally conduct uncrewed test flights prior to crewed flights. The uncrewed flight allows the team to thoroughly evaluate all flight data against pre-flight predictions and make any necessary adjustments prior to flying astronauts.

Jason’s blog:

For more information:



To review our recap of SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1:


Special thanks to photographer Jon Reino (http://www.jonreino.com/) for sharing his space journey in this episode!


Do you have a fascinating story about how you got passionate about astronomy and/or space exploration? We’d love to hear it! Tell us about your space journey and we may feature your story in an upcoming episode alongside our main guest interview. Just leave us a voicemail (less than 2 minutes long please) at 317-862-4700, or email an audio or video clip to us at [email protected]. Be sure to include your name and tell us what drew you to space and what you’re most excited about for the future of space exploration!

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