Astronaut ready for Starliner’s first flight

Astronaut ready for Starliner’s first flight

Boeing’s new Starliner astronaut capsule is set to launch on Saturday in its first crew test flight, a critical event in the aerospace giant’s goal to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The CST-100 Starliner with two astronauts is expected to take off at 12:25 p.m. from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, aboard a Boeing Atlas V rocket and the Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture.

On May 6, the countdown was stopped just two hours before the launch time due to a faulty pressure valve on the Atlas rocket. Helium leaks and other issues were later detected in the Starliner’s propulsion system, all of which have been resolved, according to Boeing and NASA.

The capsule and its crew will head to the International Space Station (ISS), two years after Starliner completed its first unmanned test flight to the orbiting lab.

Boeing needs a impactful outcome for its space project through Starliner, after several years of setbacks from schedule delays and over $1.5 billion over budget.

Starliner will directly compete with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which since 2020 has been NASA’s sole transportation to send ISS crewmembers to orbit.

NASA has long sought two U.S. transports to the station, in addition to crewed flights it conducts with Russian Soyuz rockets. – Agency

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