June 16, 2024

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

The Crew Flight Test for Boeing’s long-running CST-100 Starliner project is finally here, for real this time.

The Starliner is Boeing’s attempt to provide a space shuttle replacement that can go to space and come back. It’s a competitor of similar offerings from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

The Starliner is scheduled to launch its first manned flight, with NASA astronauts aboard, on Wednesday at 10:52 a.m. local time from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft will be heading to the International Space Station and coming back. The National Weather Service is predicting “a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Sunny, with a high near 87. East southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.”

You can watch the launch on the NASA livestream below.

See the Boeing Starliner Crew Flight Test Launch NASA Astronauts to the International Space Station

If everything goes according to plan, the Starliner will make its way to the International Space Station and dock there for a one week stay. It will then return to Earth and parachute to a spot in either New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, Willcox, Arizona, the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, or Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The crew will consist of Navy aviators Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams.

Boeing first announced the Starliner in 2010. It was originally supposed to operational by 2015, but the project has faced a number of delays over the years, from struggles fitting it on top of a rocket to software problems. Most recently, leaks of helium near the craft’s propulsion system have been the cause of delays.

NASA’s contract with Boeing to develop the Starliner was for $4.6 billion. However, it has taken so long and had so many problems that Bloomberg reports Boeing has actually lost $1.5 billion developing the craft.

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