Boeing Aims to Launch Unpiloted Starliner Test Flight to Space Station in December

Space.com | 10/12/1964 | Hanneke Weitering
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Boeing has set a new launch date for the first orbital flight of its new commercial crew vehicle that will soon begin ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The unpiloted CST-100 Starliner capsule is now scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Dec. 17, said John Mulholland, Boeing's vice president of commercial programs, here at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS).

Mission - Flight - Test - OFT - Starliner

For this mission, titled "Orbital Flight Test" (OFT), the Starliner space capsule will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on an Atlas V rocket and dock with the International Space Station, where it will stay for about a week before making a parachute-assisted landing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Related: How Boeing's Commercial CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft Works

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Before Starliner makes its first trip to the space station, Boeing will first conduct a test of the spacecraft's abort system. That in-flight abort test, which is now scheduled to take place in on Nov. 4, will demonstrate Starliner's ability to return astronauts to safety in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during the spacecraft's ascent.

SpaceX - Abort - Test - Crew - Dragon

Meanwhile, SpaceX is also gearing up for the first in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, another commercial crew vehicle NASA has commissioned to begin flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station to end the agency's reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. According to SpaceX's chief executive Elon Musk, the Crew Dragon's in-flight abort test could also launch sometime next month. Musk tweeted on Tuesday (the same day that Boeing announced its new launch schedule) that the Crew Dragon in-flight abort test will probably happen in late November or early December.

Although Starliner has yet to reach orbit, SpaceX has already launched...
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