Boeing's Starliner Meets Its Rocket Ahead Of Space Station Mission
Boeing’s Starliner capsule is sitting on top of its rocket ready for a test mission to the International Space Station launching from Cape Canaveral next month.
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The Starliner meets its rocket -- ULA's Atlas V. Photo: United Launch Alliance.[/caption]
The uncrewed mission is a critical test for Boeing as it works to launch astronauts to the station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Boeing's Starliner capsule packed only with cargo will hitch a ride into space on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket. It will dock with the station for a few days then return back to Earth. The test mission is currently scheduled for December 17.
SpaceX, another Commercial Crew partner, completed a successful uncrewed test mission to the station back in March.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said astronauts will fly early next year, although an inspector general report anticipates additional delays into summer 2020.
The Commercial Crew Program is a more than $6 billion project aimed at ending NASA’s reliance on the Russian space agency for rides to the station after the shuttle program ended in 2011.