The 81st flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, set for liftoff Friday from Cape Canaveral, will come with its share of firsts when it sends Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule toward the International Space Station on an unpiloted test flight. The launcher will fly without a payload shroud, which typically envelopes satellites during liftoff, and it will debut an uprated dual-engine Centaur upper stage that will power the Starliner on a unique suborbital trajectory optimized for astronaut comfort.
Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule accomplished an early at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico at 7:58 a.m. EST (5:58 a.m. MST; 1258 GMT) Sunday to conclude an abbreviated two-day unpiloted test flight after a timing error on the spacecraft shortly after launch prevented it from linking up with the International Space Station as planned.
Boeing’s Starliner capsule, carrying an instrumented astronaut test dummy nicknamed “Rosie,” is on track for launch Friday on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, mission managers said Tuesday. The flight is a major milestone in NASA’s push to resume launching U.S. crews from American soil.
NASA officials cleared Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft for flight Thursday after a “thorough and comprehensive” review of the crew capsule’s readiness, setting the stage for final pre-launch preparations at Cape Canaveral ahead of liftoff Dec. 20 on an unpiloted demonstration mission to the International Space Station.
This gallery of photos shows the rollout Tuesday of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket and Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule to pad 41 at Cape Canaveral, plus additional views of the 172-foot-tall launcher standing next to the crew access tower Wednesday as teams prepared for a countdown rehearsal.