October 17, 2021

Photos: Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft rolls out of factory


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Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Boeing’s first Starliner spacecraft designed to fly to the International Space Station rolled out of a converted space shuttle hangar before dawn Thursday.

The 16.5-foot-tall (5-meter) capsule emerged from its factory around 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) Thursday to begin a journey of several miles to United Launch Alliance’s Vertical Integration Facility near pad 41, where the spacecraft was hoisted atop an Atlas 5 rocket.

Boeing and ULA teams paused the spacecraft’s transfer outside the factory for a brief ceremony and speeches. By Thursday afternoon, the spacecraft — fully fueled with hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants — was hoisted into the VIF by a crane and carefully placed on top of an adapter on top of the Atlas 5.

The fully-stacked Atlas 5 with the Starliner spacecraft stands 172 feet (52.4 meters) tall. It’s a new configuration for the Atlas 5 with a dual-engine Centaur upper stage and no payload fairing, a structure used to shield satellites during launch.

The Atlas 5 configuration is designated the “N22” because it has no payload fairing, two strap-on solid rocket boosters, and two RL10 engines on its Centaur upper stage.

Boeing assembled the Starliner spacecraft inside the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, or C3PF, a converted space shuttle hangar that NASA turned over to Boeing after the shuttle’s retirement.

The Starliner spacecraft that rolled out of the C3PF Thursday will fly on a one-week unpiloted test mission to the International Space Station, proving out systems before the first crewed Starliner mission next year. Liftoff from pad 41 is scheduled for 7:47 a.m. EST (1247 GMT) on Dec. 17.

Read our full story for details on the Starliner’s rollout to the launch pad.

Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Boeing’s Starliner rolls out of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility early Thursday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Bob Cabana, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, speaks at a ceremony Friday marking the rollout of the Starliner crew capsule. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 6 rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
The Starliner spacecraft was stacked atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket Thursday afternoon at Cape Canaveral. Credit: Boeing/United Launch Alliance

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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